NYMC Faculty Publications

Technology and Social Media Use by Adult Patients with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities


NYMC First Author Publication with the Highest Usage (PlumX)

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Disability and Health Journal

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BACKGROUND: Technology and social media offer individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) unique and innovative ways to facilitate active participation in their own healthcare process. What remains unclear is the extent to which devices are currently used by this growing patient population.

OBJECTIVE: To explore the prevalence of technology and social media use, as well as the possible barriers, among adult patients with I/DD.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study utilizing an anonymous, accessible survey was used to obtain data from all adult patients (18 + years of age) with I/DD presenting for primary care services at a healthcare facility in New York between September and December of 2016.

RESULTS: A total of 370 individuals completed the survey (529 approached, 69.9% response rate). Less than half (44.6%) of respondents used devices such as a tablet, smartphone or desktop; most (86.8%) did not use social media. Only 21.6% of respondents indicated that they use some type of assistive technology. While some respondents (46.0%) were identified by their caregivers as having a disability that would prevent them from learning/using technology, other respondents reported having no challenges (18.0%), needing training and/or ongoing support (7.4%), or being uncertain as to whether they would experience any challenges (15.5%).

CONCLUSIONS: Many adult patients with I/DD do not use technology and social media that could promote self-determination and participation in their healthcare. Continued efforts must be made to promote technology use among adults with I/DD and to ensure that appropriate training is available for both the individual and his/her caregivers to achieve adoption and utilization.