Preparing for the future of healthcare: Digital health literacy among medical students in Lahore, Pakistan
Objective: Digital Health Literacy (DHL) is becoming a cardinal competence for all healthcare professionals (HCPs) including medical students for meaningful digital transformation of healthcare. As medical students need to navigate an increasingly digitalized healthcare environment, thus the study’s objective was to assess digital health literacy among medical students.
Methods: This cross-sectional analytical study was conducted at King Edward Medical University, Lahore from October 2022 to August 2023. Medical students were asked to complete a pen and paper questionnaire of the Digital Health Literacy Instrument (DHLI) after informed consent. DHLI covers seven categories: operational skills, information searching strategy, analyzing the usefulness of online information, navigational abilities, contributing user-generated material to internet-based platforms, and privacy protection. SPSS was used for data analysis.
Results: Eight hundred ninety one medical students, from first year to final year, participated in the study. The overall mean score for DHL was 63.5 (SD=8.82). Medical students achieved a score of 83.2% of total score in their operational abilities, and 82.3% proficiency in privacy protection, which were deemed highly desirable. Furthermore, they achieved a satisfactory level in navigation skill (76.0%), information searching (73.1%), adding content (71.0%), determining the significance of data (70.1%), and assessing data reliability (68.7%), based on the overall score. A significant relationship was observed between the performance level of DHL domains and gender with higher scores in males in all domains except protecting privacy, which was higher in females and clinical years students (p-value < 0.05).
Conclusion: The assessment of the DHL of medical students was deemed desirable. But certain obstacles were encountered in few domains of DHL i.e., data reliability, relevance determination, and content augmentation. It is imperative to elevate the level of DHL of medical students to harness the potential of digital technologies in enhancing healthcare.
How to cite this: Farooq Z, Imran A, Imran N. Preparing for the future of healthcare: Digital health literacy among medical students in Lahore, Pakistan. Pak J Med Sci. 2024;40(1):14-19. doi: https://doi.org/10.12669/pjms.40.1.8711
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