Computer and internet use among urban African Americans with type 2 diabetes

J Urban Health. 2005 Dec;82(4):575-83. doi: 10.1093/jurban/jti126. Epub 2005 Oct 12.


Previous studies have identified a "digital divide" between African Americans and whites, with African Americans having substantially lower rates of Internet use. However, use of the Internet to access health information has not been sufficiently evaluated in this population. Therefore, we conducted a telephone survey to determine the prevalence of computer and Internet use among 457 African American adults with type 2 diabetes. Participants were 78% female, with a mean age of 57 +/- 11 years, and about one-third had a yearly income % $7,500. Forty percent of the participants reported having a computer at home and 46% reported knowing how to use a computer. Most participants (58%) reported that they had, at some point, used a computer, and of those, 40% reported that they used the computer to find health information. In a stratified analysis, participants with lower education levels (<high school) were less likely to have a computer; older participants, men, and individuals with lower education levels were less likely to know how to use a computer and to use it to search for health information (all P < .05). Nonetheless, of the participants who did not know how to use a computer, 66% reported that they would be willing to learn. In addition, 82% reported that they had friends or family in the neighborhood who would let them use a computer. Furthermore, 89% of participants reported that they would use a computer program to manage their diabetes if it were offered free of charge. These data show promise for the willingness of this under-served population to use computers and access health information using the Internet. New programs are needed to explore Internet-based interventions to improve self-management and diabetes care among African Americans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Computers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Collection
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic