Internet use, eHealth literacy and attitudes toward computer/internet among people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders: A cross-sectional study in two distant European regions

Christina Athanasopoulou, Maritta Anneli Vaelimaeki, Katerina Koutra, Eliisa Löttyniemi, Antonios Bertsias, Maria Basta, Alexandros N. Vgontzas, Christos Lionis

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders use the Internet for general and health-related purposes. Their ability to find, understand, and apply the health information they acquire online in order to make appropriate health decisions - known as eHealth literacy - has never been investigated. The European agenda strives to limit health inequalities and enhance mental health literacy. Nevertheless, each European member state varies in levels of Internet use and online health information-seeking. This study aimed to examine computer/Internet use for general and health-related purposes, eHealth literacy, and attitudes toward computer/Internet among adults with schizophrenia spectrum disorders from two distant European regions. Methods: Data were collected from mental health services of psychiatric clinics in Finland (FI) and Greece (GR). A total of 229 patients (FI = 128, GR = 101) participated in the questionnaire survey. The data analysis included evaluation of frequencies and group comparisons with multiple linear and logistic regression models. Results: The majority of Finnish participants were current Internet users (FI = 111, 87%, vs. GR = 33, 33%, P <.0001), while the majority of Greek participants had never used computers/Internet, mostly due to their perception that they do not need it. In both countries, more than half of Internet users used the Internet for health-related purposes (FI = 61, 55%, vs. GR = 20, 61%). The eHealth literacy of Internet users (previous and current Internet users) was found significantly higher in the Finnish group (FI: Mean = 27.05, SD 5.36; GR: Mean = 23.15, SD = 7.23, P <.0001) upon comparison with their Greek counterparts. For current Internet users, Internet use patterns were significantly different between country groups. When adjusting for gender, age, education and disease duration, country was a significant predictor of frequency of Internet use, eHealth literacy and Interest. The Finnish group of Internet users scored higher in eHealth literacy, while the Greek group of never Internet users had a higher Interest in computer/Internet. Conclusions: eHealth literacy is either moderate (Finnish group) or low (Greek group). Thus, exposure to ICT and eHealth skills training are needed for this population. Recommendations to improve the eHealth literacy and access to health information among these individuals are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Article number136
JournalBMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2017


  • Attitudes
  • Computers
  • Efficacy
  • eHealth literacy
  • Interest
  • Internet
  • Mental illness
  • Schizophrenia
  • Technology
  • Use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics


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