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Developing And Evaluating A Website To Guide Older Adults In Their Health Information Searches

Arlene Fink, John C. Beck

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This mixed-methods study developed and evaluated an online program to improve older adults’ skills in identifying high-quality web-based health information. We conducted focus groups and individual interviews to collect data on older adults’ preferences for online instruction and information. We used the findings to develop, pilot test, and evaluate an interactive website which was grounded in health behavior change models, adult education, and website construction. Sixty four participants were randomly assigned to Your Health Online: Guiding eSearches or to an analogous slide-based-tutorial and compared in their knowledge, self-efficacy, and program assessment. Experimental participants assigned significantly higher ratings of usability and learning to the new site than controls did to their tutorial although no differences were found in self-efficacy or knowledge. Experimental participants reported that participation was likely to improve future searches. Information is now needed to examine if such programs actually improve health searches, ehealth literacy, and health outcomes.