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Older Adults And Internet Health Information Seeking

Sara J. Czaja, Joseph Sharit, Sankaran N. Nair, Chin Chin Lee

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The Internet is increasingly being used by consumers as a source of health information. This study examined factors that influence trust of Internet health information and how trust varies as a function of demographic characteristics, Internet experience, and computer attitudes. Data is also reported on the perceptions of the value and use of Internet-based health information. One hundred and twelve adults (50–85 years) were asked to perform Internet-based health information-seeking tasks and rate factors that influence their trust in Internet health information, the value of this information, and general trust of Internet information vs. trust of information from a doctor. The results indicated that trust is influenced by website identifiers (e.g., government agencies) and design features (e.g., ease of use). Most participants indicated that they would use the Internet health information and that access to this information would have some influence on their health behaviors. These findings underscore the importance of considering design and content issues when designing health websites.