Information-Seeking about Anxiety and Perceptions about Technology to Teach Coping Skills in Older Veterans

Clin Gerontol. Jul-Sep 2018;41(4):346-356. doi: 10.1080/07317115.2017.1359716. Epub 2017 Oct 2.


Objective: We sought to learn where older veterans seek information about anxiety and coping. Due to increasing use of technology in health care, we also explored benefits and barriers of using technology to teach coping skills.

Methods: Twenty veterans (mean age = 69.5 years, SD = 7.3) participated in semi-structured interviews in which we inquired about where they seek information about anxiety. We explored quantitative and qualitative differences for veterans with high versus low anxiety. In follow-up focus groups, we examined opinions about learning coping skills using technology.

Results: Though veterans primarily named health care professionals as sources of information about anxiety, online searches and reading books were frequently mentioned. Reported benefits of using technology were convenience and standardized instruction of coping skills. Barriers included lack of interaction and frustration with technology usability.

Conclusion: Older veterans use multiple sources, heavily rely on interpersonal sources (e.g., professionals, friends), and employ varied search strategies regarding how to cope with anxiety. Using technology to teach coping skills was generally acceptable to older veterans.

Clinical implications: Health care professionals could guide patients towards credible online and book sources. Providing instruction about using technology may help older adults use technology to learn coping skills.

Keywords: Anxious; health information sources; health information-seeking behavior; qualitative; technology; veterans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Consumer Health Information / methods*
  • Consumer Health Information / trends
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Health Personnel / ethics
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception / physiology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Technology
  • Veterans / education
  • Veterans / psychology*