Online Program

Enhancing the health information literacy skills of older adults

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 10:54 a.m. - 11:06 a.m.

Monina Lahoz, PhD, Department of Pharmacy Practice, MCPHS University, Worcester, MA
OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of an interactive, hands-on, three-lesson series in enhancing older adults' health information literacy skills, specifically, their abilities to (1) find reliable online health information, and (2) assess the quality of online health information.

METHODS: Faculty members and students from a school of pharmacy used a mobile computer classroom to present the lesson series at local senior centers. The lessons were derived from the National Institute on Aging's “Helping Older Adults Search for Health Information Online: A Toolkit for Trainers”: Lesson 1 - Introduction to MedlinePlus (Module 6); Lesson 2 - MedlinePlus: Drugs and Supplements, Medical Encyclopedia (Module 7); Lesson 3 - Evaluating Health Websites (Module 9). Pre-lesson, post-lesson, and follow-up surveys were administered to assess the effectiveness of each lesson and the lesson series.

RESULTS: About 7 older adults attended each of the 28 lessons presented at 5 senior centers; 47 completed the lesson series. The lessons increased older adults' confidence in (1) finding reliable online health information (35.3% were confident/very confident pre-Lesson 1, 72.5% pre-Lesson 2, 100% on all post-lesson and follow-up surveys), (2) evaluating the reliability of online health information (23.5% pre-Lesson 1, 96.2% post-Lesson 3, 100% follow-up), and (3) evaluating the accuracy of online health information (29.4% pre-Lesson 1, 96.1% post-Lesson 3, 94.8% follow-up).

CONCLUSION: When older adults lack health information literacy skills, they may become easy targets of health scams or suffer adverse health outcomes. Health information literacy empowers older adults to manage their health.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
Define health information literacy. Describe a strategy for enhancing the health information literacy skills of older adults.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal of one externally and one internally funded grant focusing on helping older adults find reliable and up-to-date health information on the Internet.
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.