Improving Consumer Health Literacy with Information Technology

Improving Consumer Health Literacy with Information Technology

Gondy Leroy (Claremont Graduate University, USA)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-889-5.ch090
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Before the Internet became popular as a device for distributing and sharing information, people turned to friends, books and their doctor when they had a medical question. Today, many more options exist (Figure 1). Hundreds of websites provide health information and opportunities for interaction between patients, doctors and caregivers. Estimates differ, but all surveys show that millions of people search online for health information. A Pew survey estimates that 80% of adult Internet users, about 93 million Americans, searched online for at least one of 16 major health topics (Fox & Fallows, 2003). Baker, Wagner, Signer and Bundorf (2003) estimate that 20% of the US population uses the Internet to find health information. A larger proportion (71%) of older people (50 to 64 years old), compared to 53% of younger people (18 to 29 years old), turn to the Internet for health information (Fox & Rainie, 2002). Although there is a digital divide, use of information technology is not simply decided by race or social class. Safran (2003) found that Medicaid families, who are believed not to use these new technologies, accessed their online Baby CareLink from the hospital, work, library or other public access points. Gustafson et al. (2002) point out that poverty is the prime indicator for lack of technology use.

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