Academic Study Finds Older Women Underutilize the Web to Deal With Chronic Health Conditions

A study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Georgia finds that chronically ill older women are underutilizing online resources that might help them better manage their health. The study of hundreds of women over the age of 44 with at least one chronic condition, found that 35 percent did not use the internet to help them deal with their afflictions. Of those who did go online to obtain more information about their chronic conditions, less than half used the internet to learn about others who had the same condition and less than one in five women took part in online discussions about their condition.

Carolyn Mendez-Luck, an assistant professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences at Oregon State University and a co-author of the study, noted that “it really seemed to be the lower-resourced individuals who weren’t using the internet and thus online resources. If you’re older, if you’re a member of a minority group, if you’re less educated, if you’re not working, all of those things work against you and impede your use of the internet.”

Regarding senior citizens over the age of 65 that made up just under one third of all participants in the study, Dr. Mendez-Luck added: “We need to give them a chance to get connected to community resources like libraries and senior centers that try to do education to dispel that fear or discomfort older women might have regarding technology. And more research needs to be done to determine how to tailor that online information in a way that meets their needs.”

Dr. Mendez-Luck joined the faculty at Oregon State University in 2011. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and holds a master of public health degree and a Ph.D. in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The study, “Internet-Based Resources for Disease Self-Care Among Middle-Aged and Older Women with Chronic Conditions,” was published on the website of the Journal of Women’s Health. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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