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Patient portal use among veterans with depression: Associations with symptom severity and demographic characteristics.

Connolly SL, Etingen B, Shimada SL, Hogan TP, Nazi K, Stroupe K, Smith BM. Patient portal use among veterans with depression: Associations with symptom severity and demographic characteristics. Journal of affective disorders. 2020 Oct 1; 275:255-259.

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BACKGROUND: Patient portals can support self-management behaviors and increase continuity of care. It is therefore important to understand how individuals with depression are interacting with patient portals, to ensure that they have access to tools that can improve outcomes. The purpose of the current retrospective analysis was to examine associations between symptom severity, demographic characteristics and patient portal adoption and use among Veterans with depression diagnoses. METHODS: Data were collected within a larger retrospective analysis of use of the Veterans Health Administration patient portal, My HealtheVet (MHV). The final sample included 3053 Veterans with diagnoses of depression and at least two measures of depressive symptoms. Regressions tested whether depressive symptoms and demographic variables were associated with MHV registration and feature use. RESULTS: Veterans with more severe depression were more likely to have registered for MHV and downloaded medical record content compared to those with milder symptoms. Maleand older Veterans had lower rates of portal registration, and African American Veterans had lower rates of portal feature use. LIMITATIONS: Limitations include restriction to a Veteran population who first used MHV in FY2013 as opposed to prior or subsequent years. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with more severe depression may have increased interest in and use of patient portals. Demographic differences in portal use continue to be observed; barriers to uptake must be identified so disparities can be addressed.

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