DOI: 10.1158/1538-7755.disp23-a095 ISSN: 1538-7755

Abstract A095: Rural disparities in telemedicine use among cancer survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic

Minjee Lee, Meng-Han Tsai
  • Oncology
  • Epidemiology


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes in the delivery of healthcare across the world, including the widespread adoption of telemedicine. This study examined the prevalence of telemedicine use by rurality and determined whether rurality was associated with its use among cancer survivors in the United States (US). Methods: The 2021 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) was used to examine the use of telemedicine among cancer survivors during the pandemic. Our primary outcome is telemedicine use and rurality is our main exposure of interest.  Other covariates of interest include demographics, health-related factors (number of comorbidities, self-rated health), and types of cancer history. Descriptive statistics and multiple logistic regression models were used to examine the mentioned association. Results: Among 27,500 eligible cancer survivors, 51.6% (14,140 participants) of them reported telemedicine use. The use of telemedicine varied by rurality, with 41.4% of rural cancer survivors using telemedicine compared to 58.4% of cancer survivors in large central metropolitan areas (p<0.001). Rural cancer survivors had significantly lower odds of using telemedicine during the pandemic compared to metropolitan cancer survivors. Cancer survivors residing in rural were 0.58 times less likely (95% CI, 0.43 to 0.78) and cancer survivors residing in medium and small metropolitan areas were 0.72 times less likely (95% CI, 0.56 to 0.93) to report telemedicine use compared to cancer survivors residing in large central metropolitan areas. Conclusion: Significant rural disparities in telemedicine use were evident among cancer survivors. Rural cancer survivors were less likely to use telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure equitable access to telemedicine, continued reimbursement for telemedicine services, but additional efforts are needed to improve access to and utilization of healthcare for rural cancer survivors.

Citation Format: Minjee Lee, Meng-Han Tsai. Rural disparities in telemedicine use among cancer survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 16th AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; 2023 Sep 29-Oct 2;Orlando, FL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2023;32(12 Suppl):Abstract nr A095.

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