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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.


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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