Skip to content
Survey Justice and equalities

A data divide based on knowledge, awareness and skills

A large proportion of the UK public lacks awareness of the existence of certain COVID-19 technologies, survey finds

25 March 2021

Using Technology in Medicine

Among people-facing technologies that have been developed and deployed during the pandemic, there remains a significant knowledge divide in the form of an availability gap that risks impacting on ability to benefit from access.

Well over 50% of respondents to our survey had not heard of symptom-tracking apps, of the availability of medical consultation services such as online GP appointment-booking services and of mental-wellbeing apps. The only outlier, unsurprisingly, due to a significant communications campaign since its implementation, was awareness of digital contact-tracing apps (just over 20% had not heard of).

The data divide

This is a section from a report of the findings of a nationally representative survey of 2,023 UK British adults to explore public attitudes towards a range of technologies deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic for health outcomes.

As these figures demonstrate, a large proportion of the public lacks awareness of the existence of, and the potential to adopt and use, some of those technologies. This points to a significant knowledge gap about the range of digital services on offer, in turn impacting on people’s ability to access and therefore, benefit equally from technologies.

As early as 2008, Glied and Lleras-Muney proposed that ‘improvements in health technologies tend to cause disparities in health across education groups because education enhances the ability to exploit technological advances. The most educated make the best use of this new information and adopt newer technologies first.’1 Their study also finds that those with a greater level of education are more likely to be advantaged in surviving diseases that have had more health-related technological progress.

A data divide based on use, acceptability and comfort

The next sections finds a stark difference is apparent when comparing public attitudes between those who have chosen to use COVID-19 related technologies, and those who have chosen not to use the technologies (and their reasons for doing so and not doing so).

Image credit: DragonImages

This is a section from The data divide – findings of a nationally representative survey of 2,023 UK British adults, to explore public attitudes towards a range of technologies deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic for health outcomes. Read the full report here, and explore the full dataset in Github.

Footnotes

  1. Sherry Glied and Adriana Lleras-Muney (2008). ‘Technological Innovation and Inequality in Health.’ Demography, 45(3), pp.741–761.

Related content