This chapter is drawn from a comprehensive study that examined the effect Human-Computer Interaction usability factors had on rural residents’ perception of trust in e-health services. Written comments provided by participants were examined to develop a qualitative assessment of dimensions that are important to rural residents’ perceptions of e-health. Identification of these dimensions will aid e-health system designers and administrators in creating better e-health applications.
Relevant Characteristics Of Rural Residents
Participants for this study were selected based on the location where they live. According to experts at the Nebraska Rural Health Research Center, Nebraska communities that have a population between 2,500 and 5,000 are referred to as “rural.” A list was developed of six Nebraska communities that meet these criteria and are located at least 25 miles from a similar or larger-size community (see Figure 1). The two communities selected for the study, Broken Bow and Ogallala, are located further than 25 miles from a Critical Access Hospital in addition to the above criteria.
State of Nebraska showing candidate study communities
Letters inviting participation in this study were mailed to people living outside the town boundaries of Ogallala and Broken Bow. There were 3,992 rural resident mailing addresses eligible for simplified bulk mailing in the Broken Bow area, and 4,758 eligible in the Ogallala area. Because bulk mailing was used, this eliminated the need for individual addressing; however, it did not provide for random sampling.
Participation was voluntary. Each participant was asked to browse the sample e-health Web site to become familiar with its contents and capabilities, and was directed to view various pages on the Web site. Participants were then asked to complete one of four health risk assessments and complete a Web site usability questionnaire survey. Each health risk assessment asked a series of questions about the individual’s personal health and then provided a risk assessment analyzing the individual’s health condition, based on the participant’s responses. If the results of the health risk assessment suggested a serious health problem, the participant was directed to follow up with his or her personal physician. Figure 2 displays the introductory page of the sample e-health Web site.