Usage of a digital health workplace intervention based on socioeconomic environment and race: Retrospective secondary cross-sectional study

Conor Senecal, R. Jay Widmer, Kent Bailey, Lilach O. Lerman, Amir Lerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Digital health tools have been associated with improvement of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and outcomes; however, the differential use of these technologies among various ethnic and economic classes is not well known. Objective: To identify the effect of socioeconomic environment on usage of a digital health intervention. Methods: A retrospective secondary cross-sectional analysis of a workplace digital health tool use, in association with a change in intermediate markers of CVD, was undertaken over the course of one year in 26,188 participants in a work health program across 81 organizations in 42 American states between 2011 and 2014. Baseline demographic data for participants included age, sex, race, home zip code, weight, height, blood pressure, glucose, lipids, and hemoglobin A1c. Follow-up data was then obtained in 90-day increments for up to one year. Using publicly available data from the American Community Survey, we obtained the median income for each zip code as a marker for socioeconomic status via median household income. Digital health intervention usage was analyzed based on socioeconomic status as well as age, gender, and race. Results: The cohort was found to represent a wide sample of socioeconomic environments from a median income of US $11,000 to $171,000. As a whole, doubling of income was associated with 7.6% increase in log-in frequency. However, there were marked differences between races. Black participants showed a 40.5% increase and Hispanic participants showed a 57.8% increase in use with a doubling of income, compared to 3% for Caucasian participants. Conclusions: The current study demonstrated that socioeconomic data confirms no relevant relationship between socioeconomic environment and digital health intervention usage for Caucasian users. However, a strong relationship is present for black and Hispanic users. Thus, socioeconomic environment plays a prominent role only in minority groups that represent a high-risk group for CVD. This finding identifies a need for digital health apps that are effective in these high-risk groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere145
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Computers
  • Ethnicity
  • Health disparities
  • Health services research
  • Race
  • Socioeconomic position

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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