Older Adult Internet Use and eHealth Literacy

J Appl Gerontol. 2020 Feb;39(2):141-150. doi: 10.1177/0733464818807468. Epub 2018 Oct 24.


We examine Internet use and eHealth literacy among older adults (aged 55+ years) who were patients at clinics serving low-income populations. Participants included 200 minority and White adults who completed interviews based on a technology acceptance conceptual model. A total of 106 participants (53.0%) used the Internet; utilization was associated with personal characteristics (age, ethnicity, education, poverty), computer characteristics (number of e-devices, computer stress), social support (marital status), and health knowledge and attitudes (health literacy, medical decision making, health information sources), but not health status. Of the 106 participants who used the Internet, 52 (49.1%) had high eHealth literacy; eHealth literacy was associated with computer characteristics (number of e-devices, computer stress), and health knowledge and attitudes (medical decision making, health information sources). In multivariate analysis, computer stress maintained a significant inverse association with eHealth literacy. Educational interventions to help older adults successfully use technology and improve eHealth literacy must be identified.

Keywords: digital divide; eHEALS; health literacy; health self-management.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Computers*
  • Female
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Internet Use / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • North Carolina
  • Poverty*
  • Telemedicine*