204150 African Americans' Utilization of the Internet and Online Health Information

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 8:30 AM

Dawn Beatrice Griffin, PhD, MSPH, CHES , National Center for Health Marketing/Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Deron C. Burton, MD, JD, MPH , National Center for Health Marketing/Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Kathleen Y. McDuffie, PhD, MPH, MA , National Center for Health Marketing/DPSA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
James B. Weaver, PhD, MPH , National Center for Health Marketing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Objectives. Research suggests that the “digital divide,” differential access to and/or usage of electronic and digital information systems, is narrowing. There is reason to suspect, however, that access and utilization of the internet and online health information continue to be disproportional across ethnic groups. This research examines potential disparities in accessing the internet and internet health-information seeking behaviors (iHISB) among African Americans (AAs) as compared to other racial/ethnic groups (OREGs).

Methods. Data analyzed were from the 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS, n=436). Measures of internet access and iHISB were combined to form a single variable with three levels (not accessing the internet, accessing internet without iHISB, and engaging in iHISB). Logistic models, accommodating the HINTS survey design and adjusting for demographics, were computed.

Results. Internet usage was less prevalent among non-Hispanic African Americans compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Specifically, accessing the internet was significantly less prevalent (OR 0.49, CI 0.39-0.64) among AAs (58.0%) than OREGs (72.1%). Significant differences were also evident across the three levels of internet access/iHISB (Wald χ2=32.97, p<.0001). In particular, fewer African Americans (31.1%) used iHISB than OREGs (44.6%). Conclusions. While many believe that the “digital divide” digital information access gap is closing, this research suggests substantial differences prevail in internet access across racial/ethnic groups. Specifically, our findings illustrate that, in addition to less access, African Americans are less likely to engage in iHISB. Future research is recommended to assess the impact of social, psychological, and cultural factors on access/usage of the internet and iHISB.

Learning Objectives:
To discuss the differences to access and utilization of the internet for internet health seeking behavior across racial/ethnic groups. To illustrate the relationship between accessing the internet and engaging in internet health-information seeking behavior and the implications for tailoring health communication materials.

Keywords: Health Communications, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Postdoctoral research has focused on health communication with specific interest in the HINTS data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.