Internet usage and openness to internet-delivered health information among Australian adults aged over 50 years

Ian Zajac, Ingrid Flight, Carlene Wilson, Deborah Turnbull, Stephen Cole, Graeme Young

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    16 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background The cost of healthcare in Australia's ageing population is ever increasing. In an attempt to reduce these rising costs, the internet has been suggested as a possible means of disseminating health-related information and promoting preventive health behaviours. Objective Our objective was to determine the proportion of Australians aged 50-74 years who have internet access, and the characteristics of internet usage, current online health information seeking behaviour, and the willingness to receive unsolicited health information via the Internet. Method A random sample of N=25,511 urban older Australians aged 50 to 74 years received a questionnaire via mail and were asked to complete questions concerning variables related to internet usage. N=8,762 returned a competed questionnaire. Results Eighty-two per cent of respondents reported having internet access, mainly at home (94%), and the majority actively use this technology (93%). Younger people and those of higher socio-economic status and higher education were more likely to have access (p<.001). Approximately 61% reported actively seeking health-related information online but only 32% expressed a willingness to receive unsolicited health information via the internet. Females were more likely to currently search for health-related information than males but were less likely to be open to receiving unsolicited health information (both p<.001). Conclusion According to the data it appears the majority of urban Australians aged over 50 have access to the internet at some location and 60% of them use the internet for health-related purposes. The data also suggests, however, that delivering health information via the internet alone would disadvantage those who are older, less educated, and less financially well-off.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)262-267
    Number of pages6
    JournalAustralasian Medical Journal
    Volume5
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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