Reducing Intervention and Research-Induced Inequalities to Tackle the Digital Divide in Health Promotion
Konig LM, Krukowski RA, Kuntsche E, Busse H, Gumbert L, Gemesi K, Neter E, Mohamed NF, Ross K, John-Akinola Y, Cooper R, Allmeta A, Silva AM, Forbes CC, Western MJ. Reducing intervention- and research-induced inequalities to tackle the digital divide in health promotion. Int J Equity Health 2023;22(1):249. doi:10.1186/s12939-023-02055-6
This article summarizes discussions from an international expert workshop held in Kulmbach, Germany. The international representatives discussed the challenges facing the field of digital health in regards to social inequality. The primary goal was to outline global methods for improving digital health for all without widening already existing health disparities. Two main themes emerged during the workshop: intervention-induced inequalities and research-induced inequalities. To address intervention-induced inequalities the authors suggest supporting policy changes around healthcare costs, focusing on digital navigators, and expanding research on uptake and engagement cross-culturally. Generally, the goal is to make interventions cost-effective, user-friendly regardless of technology skill level, and accessible. To facilitate equality in research the authors suggest global use of online study registration platforms, including end users early in the intervention design process, diverse recruitment strategies including cross-cultural and language comparisons, and open access to results. Here, the ultimate aim is to increase diversity in research networks, promoting intersectional research and data sharing. Webpages maintaining summaries of recent research in digital health and healthcare-related areas are promoted as a critical method of preventing research waste and promoting collaborations. Without proper consideration of the above discussion points the authors reiterate that digital health research and interventions may widen rather than bridge existing health inequalities.