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BACKGROUND: Remote and digital services must be equitable, but some patients have difficulty using these services. Designing measures to overcome digital disparities can be challenging for practices. Personas (fictional cases) are a potentially useful tool in this regard. AIM: To develop and test a set of personas to reflect the lived experiences and challenges that older people who are disadvantaged face when navigating remote and digital primary care services. DESIGN AND SETTING: Qualitative study of digital disparities in NHS community health services offering video appointments. METHOD: Following familiarisation visits and interviews with service providers, 17 older people with multiple markers of disadvantage (limited English, health conditions, and poverty) were recruited and interviewed using narrative prompts. Data were analysed using an intersectionality lens, underpinned by sociological theory. Combining data across all participant interviews, we produced personas and refined these following focus groups involving health professionals, patients, and advocates (n = 12). RESULTS: Digital services create significant challenges for older patients with limited economic, social, and linguistic resources and low digital, health, or system literacy. Four contrasting personas were produced, capturing the variety and complexity of how dimensions of disadvantage intersected and influenced identity and actions. The personas illustrate important themes including experience of racism and discrimination, disorientation, discontinuity, limited presence, weak relationships, loss of agency, and mistrust of services and providers. CONCLUSION: Personas can illuminate the multiple and intersecting dimensions of disadvantage in patient populations who are marginalised and may prove useful when designing or redesigning digital primary care services. Adopting an intersectional lens may help practices address digital disparities.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Gen Pract

Publication Date



aged, digital disparities, digital equity, digital healthcare, focus groups, primary care