Usage of medical internet and e-health services by the elderly

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2015;834:75-80. doi: 10.1007/5584_2014_74.

Abstract

Internet and e-health services have a substantial potential to support efficient and effective care for the elderly. The aim of the study was to investigate the use of Internet for health-related purposes among Polish elderly, the frequency and reasons of use, the importance of e-health services, and factors affecting their use. A total of 242 elderly at the age of ≥60 years were selected from the Polish population by random sampling. Data collection was carried out by phone interviews in October-November 2012. The study shows that the Internet was ever used by 32% of the elderly and 1/5 claimed a regular use. Among the Internet users, 81% of older people used it to obtain information about health or illness. The Internet was one of the less important sources of information (important for 27% of respondents), face to face contact with health professionals and family and friends are still the most required source of medical information (75%). Only 7% of elderly Internet users approached the family physician, specialists, or other health professionals over the Internet. Factors that positively affected the use of Internet among elderly were male gender, younger age, higher education, living with family, mobile phone use, and a subjective assessment of one's own health as good. The doctor's provision of Internet-based services was important in the opinion of approximately 1/4 of older people. We conclude that the development of information and communications technology (ICT) tools increasingly meets the evolving needs of patients in the field of e-health. More and more elderly become beneficiaries of these services.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Telemedicine*