Online Program

Technology Use for Communication and for Health Among Older U.S. Adults

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Jennifer Faith, PhD, School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, Oregon State University - College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Corvallis, OR
Sandi Phibbs, PhD, MPH, School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, Oregon State University, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Corvallis, OR
Technology offers ways to make delivery of health-related care and services better and more efficient, a worthy pursuit considering our aging population. Older adults have reported difficulty learning to use new technology, among other barriers. Studies comparing technology use between older and younger adults often treat older adults as a uniform group; few have studied these topics within older adult populations. Our objectives were to examine associations between age group (50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80+) and using technology for communication (email, social networks, video calls, smartphones, and tablets) and for health (online health programs, websites for health information, and health monitoring devices). We used data from community-dwelling U.S. adults aged 50+ from the 2012 Health and Retirement Study (n=1,662). The most common uses of technology were email (56%) and the Internet for health information (45%). Among those who did not use any technologies, 25% reported an interest in trying them. Except for health monitoring devices, crosstabulations indicated that age group was significantly associated with using each technology (with the highest proportion of use among those aged 50-59). Multivariate logistic regression models indicated that, with the exception of using health monitoring devices, the adjusted odds of using each technology were significantly lower among older age categories compared to those aged 50-59. Results suggest that those under the age of 60 may be most amenable to services and interventions using technology; however, our results also suggest that some older adults who do not currently use technology might be interested in using them.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare use of technology for communication and for health among age groups of older U.S. adults. Identify predictors of technology use among older U.S. adults.

Keyword(s): Technology, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a postdoctoral scholar with training in data analysis and experience working with large datasets. My dissertation involved use of technology for health information and support.
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.