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The consequences of seniors seeking health information using the internet and other sources.

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Department of Medical Informatics, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The internet is viewed as an important channel for patient empowerment, enabling patients to feel more knowledgeable and take action to improve their own health. Internet use among seniors in the Netherlands is increasing, but it is not known if they also use it for health information, nor if seeking information on the internet has different consequences for empowerment than seeking information from other sources. We sought to investigate seniors' use of the internet compared to other resources for health information, and the consequences in terms of both subjective responses and actions taken. Using an email invitation and a web survey, we surveyed 100 elderly internet users, of which 85% had used the internet for health information. The consequences were similar for information found via internet and other sources, and generally positive. Over half reported feeling more knowledgeable and 51% reported making lifestyle changes, but fewer reported having taken other actions (e.g. discussing the information with their doctor). Encouraging the translation of knowledge into action represents an opportunity for empowerment in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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