Online health information use by participants in selected senior centres in Korea: current status of internet access and health information use by Korean older adults

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Abstract

Aims and objectives.

The purpose of this research was to describe how older adult internet users from senior centres in Korea accessed and used health information on the internet and the perceived barriers that prevented internet use.

Background.

Increasingly, patients are using health-related information available on the internet. Internet based health information has influenced patient knowledge and expectations regarding healthcare. However, there are few studies about the use of internet for health information by older adults, and even less is known about older adults in Korea.

Design.

Based on the Access to Information framework developed by McCreadie and Rice, this quantitative study with a qualitative adjunct explored the older adults’ use of internet for health information.

Methods.

A convenience sample of 91 community-dwelling older adults in Korea was recruited from 10 randomly selected senior centres, using the modified Kaiser Family Foundation Survey as the basis for structured interview.

Results.

Half of older internet users (n = 13) had used online health information and found it was helpful. Barriers to internet use were: no interest (90.8%); too complicated (75%); no experience in using internet (˜50%); too expensive (˜50%); or disability (10%). Qualitative findings revealed that the prime reason for non-use of the internet was related to literacy and level of education due to historical background.

Conclusions.

The results of quantitative and qualitative analysis supported that the internet users were relatively younger, more educated, male, had a higher income, received more support from others and all from large senior centres.

Implications for practice.

This study is important because the results can provide valuable insights into the potential for health education and health communication for older adults in Korea using the internet. It could affect health promotion, policy and education for older adults in Korea.

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