Needs, barriers and facilitators of older adults towards eHealth in general practice: a qualitative study

Johannes William Vergouw, Hanneke Smits-Pelser, Marijke C Kars, Thijs van Houwelingen, Harmieke van Os-Medendorp, Helianthe Kort, Nienke Bleijenberg (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The strain on health care services is increasing due to an ageing population and the increasing prevalence of chronic health conditions. eHealth could contribute to optimise effective and efficient care to older adults with one or more chronic health conditions in the general practice.

AIM: The aim of this study was to identify the needs, barriers and facilitators amongst community-dwelling older adults (60+) suffering from one or more chronic health conditions, in using online eHealth applications to support general practice services.

METHODS: A qualitative study, using semi-structured followed by think-aloud interviews, was conducted in the Netherlands. The semi-structured interviews, supported by an interview guide were conducted and analysed thematically. The think-aloud method was used to collect data about the cognitive process while the participant was completing a task within online eHealth applications. Verbal analysis according to the Chi approach was conducted to analyse the think-aloud interviews.

FINDINGS: A total of n = 19 older adults with a mean age of 73 years participated. The ability to have immediate contact with the GP on important health issues was identified as an important need. Identified barriers were non-familiarity with the online eHealth applications and a mismatch of user health needs. The low computer experience resulted in non-familiarity with the online eHealth applications. Faltering applications resulted in participants refusing to participate in the use of online eHealth applications. Convenience, efficiency and the instant availability of eHealth via applications were identified as important facilitators.

CONCLUSION: To improve the use and acceptability of eHealth applications amongst older adults in the general practice, the applications should be tailored to meet individual needs. More attention should be given to improving the user-friendliness of these applications and to the promotion of the benefits such as facilitating older adults independent living for longer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54
Number of pages11
JournalPrimary health care research & development
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020


  • community-dwelling older adults
  • eHealth
  • online applications
  • primary care
  • qualitative study


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