The Effects of a Theory-Based Patient Portal e-Learning Program for Older Adults with Chronic Illnesses

Eun Shim Nahm, Shijun Zhu, Michele Bellantoni, Linda Keldsen, Vince Russomanno, Matt Rietschel, Tabassum Majid, Hyojin Son, Leslie Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: The high prevalence of chronic illnesses is a serious public health problem in the United States, and more than 70 million older adults have at least one chronic illness. Patient portals (PPs) have an excellent potential to assist older adults in managing chronic illnesses; however, older adults' PP adoption rates have been low. Lack of support for older adults using PPs remains a critical gap in most implementation processes. The main aim of this study was to assess the impact of an older adult friendly Theory-based Patient portal e-Learning Program (T-PeP) on PP knowledge, selected health outcomes (health decision-making self-efficacy [SE] and health communication), PP SE and use, and e-health literacy in older adults. Materials and Methods: A two-arm randomized controlled trial was conducted with older adults (N = 272) who had chronic conditions. Participants were recruited online, and data were collected at baseline, 3 weeks, and 4 months. The main intervention effects were tested using linear mixed models. Results: The average age of participants was 70.0 ± 8.5 years, and 78.3% (n = 213) were white. At 3 weeks, the intervention group showed significantly greater improvement than the control group in all outcomes except PP use. At 4 months, the intervention effects decreased, but PP SE remained significant (p = 0.015), and the intervention group showed higher frequency of PP use than the control group (p = 0.029). Conclusion: The study findings showed that the T-PeP was effective in improving selected health and PP usage outcomes. Further studies are needed to test the long-term effects of T-PeP using more diverse samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-951
Number of pages12
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • chronic illnesses
  • e-learning
  • older adults
  • patient portal
  • usability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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