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MedGenMed. 2006 Apr 4;8(2):4.

Web-based consumer health information: public access, digital division, and remainders.

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  • 1Center for Technology Assessment, Department of Health Policy and Administration and College of Information Sciences and Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA. dpl10@psu.edu


Public access Internet portals and decreasing costs of personal computers have created a growing consensus that unequal access to information, or a "digital divide," has largely disappeared for US consumers. A series of technology initiatives in the late 1990s were believed to have largely eliminated the divide. For healthcare patients, access to information is an essential part of the consumer-centric framework outlined in the recently proposed national health information initiative. Data from a recent study of health information-seeking behaviors on the Internet suggest that a "digitally underserved group" persists, effectively limiting the planned national health information infrastructure to wealthier Americans.

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