274434 Older Adults & Health Information Seeking on the Internet

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 9:30 AM - 9:50 AM

Cynthia Castro, PhD , School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Abby C. King, PhD , Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Emily Agree, PhD , Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Dina L.G. Borzekowski, EdD , Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
While midlife and older adults (ages 50+) are less likely to use the Internet than younger age groups, they are the largest growing group of Internet adoptees. This study examined Internet use habits of adults ages 50 years and older as it related to health information seeking. A diverse sample of adults ages 50 to 70 years completed questionnaires online about their internet use and health information seeking. The sample was 65% women, 30% Asian, 30% Latino, 33% were born outside of the US, and 13% spoke a language other than English in the home. All but 1 participant had used the Internet to search for health information. Subjects most frequently searched the Internet for health information for themselves for weight loss (reported by 64% of subjects), followed by information on medication prescriptions (60%). Subjects most frequently searched the internet for friends and family for information related to specific medical conditions (i.e., cancer, diabetes, and heart disease). These health information seeking patterns did not differ by race or ethnicity. Of subjects 65 and older, 32% had never used the Internet to find information on Medicare. Caucasian participants were more likely to get their health information from websites, and Latinos were more likely to get their health information from doctors. All groups had the most trust in health information from doctors than from other sources. This study reveals interesting patterns of Internet health information seeking that can inform the content and distribution of information both through the web and traditional sources.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the top sources of health information for a sample of older adults 2. Identify the health issues/topics that older adults most commonly search on the internet 3. Explain differences and similarities in level of trust in health information sources across race/ethnic groups of midlife and older adult internet users

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be a presenter on the content that I am responsible for because I have advanced educational training in gerontology and health behavior, I have extensive experience conducting health research with older adults from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds, and I have published and presented my work in a variety of health related academic journals.
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.