"There Is Something We Need to Tell You...": Communicating Health-Screening Results to Older Adults via the Internet

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Background: With the introduction of online health screenings, guidelines describing how to communicate about a person's health need to be adapted for a digital setting. This study aimed to uncover older adults' preferences regarding such online messages.
Materials and Methods: Thirty older adults (aged 65 to 75 years) viewed four versions of the results message of a screening aimed at identifying frailty: a standard, empathic, tailored, or both empathic and tailored message. After each version, they were interviewed about what they (dis)liked about the message. They also ranked the four versions according to preference. Ranks were analyzed with a Friedman's test and a Wilcoxon's signed-rank test.
Results: There was no significant difference for message-type preference when the outcome was positive. For the prefrail or frail outcome, message-type preferences differed (χ2 = 10.51, p = 0.02 and χ2 = 13.56, p < 0.01, respectively). Overall, for the prefrail and frail outcome, the tailored version was appreciated most. Participants commented that the tailored version made them feel appreciated more as a person. Some found the empathic additions comforting, others found these unnecessary.
Conclusions: When communicating the results of an online health screening to older adults via the Internet, one should primarily tailor the message toward personal characteristics. The effect of empathic elements in results messages appeared to be limited. Whether a message should be adapted depends on whether the outcome is positive or negative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-746
JournalTelemedicine and e-health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • e-Health
  • Telehealth
  • Telemedicine
  • Behavioral
  • Health


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