Health literacy and patient web portals

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objectives: There is limited evidence about the association between health literacy and use of patient web portals in patients with chronic illnesses. The objective of this review was to learn more about health literacy and use of patient web portals. Methods: Bibliographic searches were conducted in PubMed and CINAHL using relevant MeSH search terms and Boolean algebra commands. Results: Qualitative studies and studies with a cross-sectional, cohort, or pre-/post-test design have shown that persons with limited health literacy are less likely to use patient web portals, although there is inconsistency in the association across studies. Conclusions: The conflicting findings may be partially due to racial and ethnic differences in health literacy or level of comfort in sharing private health information using mobile technologies. Several opportunities exist to improve the usability and acceptability of web portals for patients with limited health literacy including enhancements in the design of the portals, patient and provider education and training, and engagement of proxies such as caregivers and close family members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Health information technologies
  • Health literacy
  • Patient engagement
  • Patient portals
  • Personal health information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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