Last updated: 14 November 2014 at 7am PST
The Internet is a familiar tool of everyday life and an important source of information, including on health. Except, that is, for those who find themselves stranded on the wrong side of the "digital divide." Now, researchers warn that older Americans who are not online could be sidelined as the Internet's role in providing health information grows.
Among elderly Americans, those with low health literacy were the least likely to use the Internet, according to the latest study.
Helen Levy, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, led the first ever study to show that older people's health literacy also predicts how and if they use the Internet.
She and her colleagues report their findings in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Prof. Levy says like any innovation in health care, health information technology brings with it not only significant benefits, but also the risk that the benefits may not be shared equally.
She and her team wanted to investigate this further, especially as more and more resources are being invested in health information technology in the US - for example, in electronic medical records.
They wondered, since nobody had explored it yet, whether the elderly are able and willing to make full use of the new technology. Is there a link between elderly people's level of understanding about health - their health literacy - and their use of the Internet to find information?...繼續閱讀