Access to healthcare in remote areas is difficult and telehealth could be a promising avenue if accepted by the population. The aim of this study is to assess social acceptance and population confidence in telehealth in the Province of Quebec.
We conducted a survey using a questionnaire assessing the social acceptance of and confidence level in telehealth. Two strategies were used: 1) paper questionnaires were sent to two hospitals in Quebec; and 2) online questionnaires were randomly sent by a firm specialized in online survey to a representative sample of the population of the Province of Quebec. Respondents were all residents of the Province of Quebec and 18 years and older. Questions were scored with a four-level Likert scale.
A total of 1816 questionnaires were analyzed (229 written and 1,587 online questionnaires). The socio-demographic variables in our samples, especially the online questionnaires, were fairly representative of Quebec's population. Overall, social acceptance scored at 77.71% and confidence level at 65.76%. Both scores were higher in the case of treatment (3 scenarios were proposed) vs. diagnosis (p < 0.05). No difference was found when respondents were asked to respond for themselves and for a member of their family, which demonstrates a true interest in telehealth in Quebec. In addition, we found a significant difference (p < 0.05) between written and online questionnaires regarding social acceptance (80.75% vs. 77.33%) and confidence level (74.84% vs. 64.55%). These differences may be due to social desirability or avidity bias in the written questionnaires.
Our results suggest that the population in Quebec encourages the development of telehealth for real time diagnosis and long distance treatment for regions deprived of healthcare professionals.