Friday, April 16, 2010

Patients with chronic diseases are less likely to use the Internet

According to a recent report titled, "Chronic Disease and the Internet" that was published by Pew Internet & American Life Project:
U.S. adults living with chronic disease are significantly less likely than healthy adults to have access to the internet (62% vs. 81%). 
How will these patients gain access to valuable online disease management resources? After all, aren't these the individuals who should be using online personal health records and interactive disease management tools? Shouldn't they be the ones participating in online forums, sharing stories, and encouraging each other with social support? So much consumer health education content is written specifically for patients who have several chronic conditions and who need to learn ways to improve the self management of their conditions. How will they gain access to this information if they're not getting online?

As the general patient population gets more comfortable with computers and the Internet, they are also at risk for misinformation. After all, a large proportion of health content that's published on the Internet is inaccurate and I don't think we'll ever know how to quantify this amount given the volume of blogs and forums where people are talking about medical conditions.

You can read the report titled, "Chronic Disease and the Internet" here. This report is the result of collaboration between the Pew Internet Project and the California HealthCare Foundation

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has had an online internet organization since 1996, I can say that personally, those who have a chronic illness seem willing to "cut" a lot of other things in their budget before letting go of their internet access if they use the internet for social and spiritual support for their illness(es). There are also a lot of people with my organization who will log in weekly at the library to visit their favorite sites. And we encourage anyone to print items out for friends who do not have internet access. There is a great proportion of society in their 50-80s who have chronic illnesses who are gradually becoming more familiar with how to use web sites, blogs, Facebook, etc. But for many of these people, the simpler the better. They don't want to Twitter and social networks can be confusing. As we all continue to age and grow I believe we will see a greater percentage of the chronically ill online. But yes, let's face it, internet COSTS and many, many people simply are trying to pay rent or for medications and internet is a luxury.