Disparities in Access to High-Speed Internet Found Among Chicago Parents

August 26, 2022

Findings important in designing equitable digital health services

Parents who identified as Hispanic/Latinx or Black were less likely to have reliable, high-speed internet than White parents, according to a survey from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago published in the journal JAMA Network Open. However, after adjusting for income, the disparity in access to high-speed internet persisted for Hispanic/Latinx families but not for Black families. These differences may be attributed to residential segregation in Chicago, with broadband resources potentially limited in minoritized neighborhoods.

“It is important to clarify which populations might have challenges accessing video-based doctor appointments and other digital health services that are becoming more widespread since the pandemic,” said lead author Kristin Kan, MD, MPH, MSc, a pediatrician at Lurie Children’s and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “As we continue to develop these services, we need to make sure we provide equitable access to all families.”

Dr. Kan and colleagues conducted a survey of 1,620 Chicago parents. Over 90 percent of parents reported having a desktop/laptop at home and 77 percent reported having reliable, high-speed internet. Sixty-five percent of Hispanic/Latinx families had reliable high-speed internet, compared to 76 percent of Black families and 89 percent of White families.

Data was collected through the Voices of Child Health in Chicago Parent Panel Survey, a triannual survey of Chicago parents about child, adolescent, and family health and well-being. Parents in the panel are from all 77 neighborhoods in Chicago.

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.