Internet non-use among Canadian indigenous older adults: Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS)

BMC Public Health. 2020 Oct 15;20(1):1554. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-09659-5.


Background: Older adults benefit considerably from Internet use, as it can improve their overall health and quality of life, for example through accessing healthcare services and reducing social isolation. The aim of this study is to assess the prevalence and characteristics of Indigenous older adults in Canada who do not use the Internet.

Methods: The Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) 2017 was used and analysis was restricted to those above 65 years of age. The main outcome variable was non-use of the internet in a typical month. Multivariable logistic regression was conducted to assess the relationship between each of the sociodemographic, socioeconomic, lifestyle and health factors and internet non-use.

Results: The prevalence of Indigenous older adults who reported never using the Internet in a typical month was 33.6% with the highest prevalence reported by residents of the Canadian territories while the lowest prevalence was reported in British Columbia. After adjustment, results indicated that older age (OR = 4.02, 95% CI 3.54-4.57 comparing 80+ to 65-69 years of age), being a male (OR = 1.52, 95% CI 1.41-1.63), married (OR = 1.34, 95% CI 1.25-1.44), and living in rural areas (OR = 1.95, 95% CI 1.79-2.13) increased the odds of not using the Internet. First Nation individuals and those who have a strong sense of belonging to the Indigenous identity were more likely to not use the Internet compared to their counterparts. In addition, those who were less educated (OR = 8.74, 95% CI 7.03-1 0.87 comparing less than secondary education to Bachelor's Degree and above), unemployed (OR = 1.41, 95% CI 1.26-1.57), smoked cigarettes, used marijuana and those with lower self-perceived mental health and unmet health needs were at increased odds of Internet non-use compared to their counterparts.

Conclusions: Findings from this study show that a large proportion of the Indigenous older adults in Canada do not use the internet. It is necessary to address Indigenous communities' lack of internet access and to create interventions that are consistent with Indigenous values, traditions, and goals.

Keywords: Aboriginal peoples survey; Canada; Indigenous older adults; Internet non-use.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Indigenous Canadians / psychology
  • Indigenous Canadians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Style
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires