Sauchelli S, Pickles T, Voinescu A, Choi H, Sherlock B, Zhang J, Colyer S, Grant S, Sundari S, Lasseter G. Public attitudes towards the use of novel technologies in their future healthcare: a UK survey. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2023 Feb 22;23(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s12911-023-02118-2

BACKGROUND: Innovation in healthcare technologies can result in more convenient and effective treatment that is less costly, but a persistent challenge to widespread adoption in health and social care is end user acceptability. The purpose of this study was to capture UK public opinions and attitudes to novel healthcare technologies (NHTs), and to better understand the factors that contribute to acceptance and future use.

METHODS: An online survey was distributed to the UK public between April and May 2020. Respondents received brief information about four novel healthcare technologies (NHTs) in development: a laser-based tool for early diagnosis of osteoarthritis, a virtual reality tool to support diabetes self-management, a non-invasive continuous glucose monitor using microwave signals, a mobile app for patient reported monitoring of rheumatoid arthritis. They were queried on their general familiarity and attitudes to technology, and their willingness to accept each NHT in their future care. Responses were analysed using summary statistics and content analysis.

RESULTS: Knowledge about NHTs was diverse, with respondents being more aware about the health applications of mobile apps (66%), followed by laser-based technology (63.8%), microwave signalling (28%), and virtual reality (18.3%). Increasing age and the presence of a self-reported medical condition favoured acceptability for some NHTs, whereas self-reported understanding of how the NHT works resulted in elevated acceptance scores across all NHTs presented. Common contributors to hesitancy were safety and risks from use. Respondents wanted more information and evidence to help inform their decisions, ideally provided verbally by a general practitioner or health professional. Other concerns, such as privacy, were NHT-specific but equally important in decision-making.

CONCLUSIONS: Early insight into the knowledge and preconceptions of the public about NHTs in development can assist their design and prospectively mitigate obstacles to acceptance and adoption.

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