Background: Online patient access to personal health information is limited but increasing in Canada and internationally. Objective: This exploratory study aimed to increase understanding of how online access to laboratory test results in British Columbia (Canada) – which has been broadly available since 2010 – affects patients’ experiences.
Methods: In November 2013, we surveyed adults in B.C. who had had a laboratory test in the previous 12 months. Using a retrospective cohort design, we compared reported wait-time for results, test result comprehension, and anxiety levels of “service users” who had online access to their test results (n=2047) with those of a general population panel that did not have online access (n=1245).
Results: The vast majority of service users (84.0%, 95% CI 82.3% – 85.7%) said they received their results within “a few days”, compared to just over a third of the comparison group (37.8% 95% CI 35.0% – 40.7%). Most in both groups said they understood their test results, but the rate was lower for service users than the comparison group (75.5%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 73.6% – 77.5% vs. 84.7%, 95% CI% 82.6% – 86.8%).
There was no significant difference between groups in levels of reported anxiety after receiving test results. Conclusions: While most of those who received their laboratory test results online reported little anxiety after receiving their results and were satisfied with the service, there may be opportunities to improve comprehension of results
Published: August 2015
Policy Area: Health - Health Services
Population: General Population - Communities and Families
Type: Technical paper