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Access and Use of Digital Rheumatology: Exploring “the social aspect”

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European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)


This paper reports on the results of a secondary analysis of qualitative and quantitative research data focused on the socio-demographic and -economic dimension of digital health service and telemedicine use in German rheumatology care. The qualitative data analysis revealed that particularly age, place of residence and economic wealth are attributed a high relevance for the use of digital health through patients. Among physicians, age in particular was highlighted to influence digital services. Access to technical equipment is unequally distributed in society, leading to a wealth gap, which, according to participants, should find greater consideration. The quantitative data suggested correlation between the location of medical practice and telemedicine use, which might indicate poorer infrastructure in rural areas in Germany. These results are transferred to Bourdieu's theory of social space (1979) and types of capital (1986). The individual positioning in social space is associated with health-enhancing privilege and opportunities to parts of society. This may also include digital health use, which according to our data depends in particular on the individual economic capital of each person. The influence of social, cultural and symbolic capital on digital health has yet to be explored, based on further primary data research.


Muehlensiepen, Felix; Hochwarter, Stefan (2021): Access and Use of Digital Rheumatology: Exploring “the social aspect”. Infrahealth 2021 - Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Infrastructures in Healthcare. DOI: 10.18420/ihc2021_013. European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET). PISSN: 2510-2591. Kristiansand, Norway. 23-24 September 2021