Awareness and Attitudes towards Telehealth in Elderly South-East Asian Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study

Ryan Eyn Kidd Man, Aricia Xin Yi Ho, Ester Pei Xuan Lee, Eva Katie Diana Fenwick, Amudha Aravindhan, Kam Chun Ho, Gavin Siew Wei Tan, Daniel Shu Wei Ting, Tien Yin Wong, Khung Keong Yeo, Su-Yen Goh, Preeti Gupta, Ecosse Luc Lamoureux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: We aimed to understand the awareness and attitudes of elderly Southeast Asians towards telehealth services during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in this study.

METHODS: In this qualitative study, 78 individuals from Singapore (51.3% female, mean age 73.0 ± 7.6 years) were interviewed via telephone between 13 May 2020 and 9 June 2020 during Singapore's first COVID-19 'circuit breaker'. Participants were asked to describe their understanding of telehealth, their experience of and willingness to utilise these services, and the barriers and facilitators underlying their decision. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis, guided by the United Theory of Acceptance Use of Technology framework.

RESULTS: Of the 78 participants, 24 (30.8%) were able to describe the range of telehealth services available and 15 (19.2%) had previously utilised these services. Conversely, 14 (17.9%) participants thought that telehealth comprised solely home medication delivery and 50 (51.3%) participants did not know about telehealth. Despite the advantages offered by telehealth services, participants preferred in-person consultations due to a perceived lack of human interaction and accuracy of diagnoses, poor digital literacy and a lack of access to telehealth-capable devices.

CONCLUSION: Our results showed poor overall awareness of the range of telehealth services available among elderly Asian individuals, with many harbouring erroneous views regarding their use. These data suggest that public health education campaigns are needed to improve awareness of and correct negative perceptions towards telehealth services in elderly Asians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalSingapore Medical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2023


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