Exploring the Equity Impact of Current Digital Health Design Practices

Laura Evans, Jay Evans, Claudia Pagliari, Karin Källander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: The field of digital health has grown rapidly in part due to digital health tools’ potential to reduce health inequities. However, such potential has not always been realized. The design approaches used in digital health are one of the known aspects that have an impact on health equity.

Objective: The aim of our scoping review will be to understand how design approaches in digital health have an impact on health equity.

Methods: A scoping review of studies that describe how design practices for digital health have an impact on health equity will be carried out. The scoping review will follow the methodologies laid out by Arksey and O’Malley, the Joanna Briggs Institute, and the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) checklist. The PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and ACM Digital Library databases will be searched for peer-reviewed papers. The ProQuest Dissertations and Theses and Global Index Medicus databases will be searched for gray literature. The results will be screened against our inclusion and exclusion criteria. Subsequently, the data extracted from the included studies will be analyzed.

Results: As of March 2022, a preliminary search of the peer-reviewed databases has yielded over 4900 studies, and more are anticipated when gray literature databases are searched. We expect that after duplicates are removed and screening is completed, a much smaller number of studies will meet all of our inclusion criteria.

Conclusions: Although there has been much discussion about the importance of design for lowering barriers to digital health participation, the evidence base demonstrating its impacts on health equity is less obvious. We hope that our findings will contribute to a better understanding of the impact that design in digital health has on health equity and that these findings will translate into action that leads to stronger, more equitable health care systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e34013
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Digital Health
  • eHealth
  • User-centred design
  • Design practices
  • health equity
  • Inequalities
  • Health inequalities
  • digital inclusion
  • Digital ethics


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