New Research Shows Sexual Minority Adults More Willing to Use Digital Health Tools for Public Health


In the current climate of increased medical mistrust, survey data show sexual minority adults are more open to using COVID-19 screening and tracking tools, challenging stereotypes and highlighting the need for inclusive health care solutions.

[Toronto, March 11, 2024] — Little is known about the willingness of sexual minority adults—people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or other nonheterosexual orientation identities—to use digital health tools. A new study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research by Dr Wilson Vincent of Temple University, has shed light on this question in the context of public health screening and tracking. The research challenges assumptions about the uptake of such technologies, particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Vincent notes that past studies have seldom looked into how willing sexual minority groups are to use digital health tools, particularly in relation to pandemics or non-HIV prevention measures. In the COVID-19 era, use of cutting-edge mHealth tools such as smartphone apps for screening, monitoring, and treating the virus has skyrocketed, marking a thrilling advancement in health care technology. Yet, how enthusiastic are people about embracing these new technologies?

To answer this question, Dr Vincent used data from the COVID Impact Survey, which was conducted during the height of the COVID-19 response in the United States and surveyed over 2000 people. A deep dive into this publicly available data set revealed that sexual minority adults showed a greater willingness to use digital health tools for screening and tracking compared to heterosexual adults. Interestingly, there were no notable differences in this group in terms of age, gender, or race/ethnicity. On the flip side, White heterosexual adults showed a disproportionately low willingness to use such tools.

The findings show how important it is to make digital health tools work for everyone. Diverse populations should be considered in the development and implementation of digital health strategies, particularly during public health crises. By understanding and meeting the needs of sexual minority adults, policymakers and health care workers can make health strategies better and fairer for all.

The study also highlights the need for ongoing research into the digital divide among different demographic groups. Gaining insights into the factors that shape one's readiness to interact with digital health tools can guide the creation of tailored interventions aimed at closing current disparities in health care accessibility and adoption. Future studies that delve into the various dynamics involved can help create health care solutions that work for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or other demographic factors.

Please cite as:
Vincent W
Willingness to Use Digital Health Screening and Tracking Tools for Public Health in Sexual Minority Populations in a National Probability Sample: Quantitative Intersectional Analysis
J Med Internet Res 2024;26:e47448
doi: 10.2196/47448