Can I Really Google?: Narrowing the Digital Divide in a Low Socioeconomic Community of Older Adults

Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Adeline Yee-Mei Chu, RN, MEd , College of Nursing, Texas Woman's University, Houston, TX
Jeffrey Huber, PhD , School of Library and Information Studies, Texas Woman's University, Houston, TX
Beth Mastel-Smith, PhD, RN , Nursing, Texas Woman's University, Houston, TX
Sandra Cesario, RNC, PhD , College of Nursing, Texas Woman's University - Houston, Houston, TX

Learning Objective 1: describe the role of a community healthcare nurse in promoting consumer health information resources on the Internet among community-dwelling older adults

Learning Objective 2: discuss the strategy employed in the study to promote online health information retreival and evaluation among older adults


The study aims to narrow the gap of digital divide and unequal distribution of technology among older adults in low socioeconomic communities by designing an intervention, based on Bandura's Self-Efficacy Model, to assist older adults to engage the skills and competence in consumer health information retrieval and evaluation online.


To measure the psychosocial influences of computer anxiety, computer confidence and computer self-efficacy among older adults, 65 and above, who participate and complete a 5-week education intervention in health information retrieval and evaluation on the Internet.


130 participants will be recruited and randomized to a controlled, 2-group, pre-post, repeated measure design. 65 participants in the intervention group will be given a 2-hour session, once a week for 5 weeks. The intervention will not be administered to the control group. The computer confidence and computer anxiety subscale of the Computer Attitude Scale (CAS), and the Computer Self-Efficacy Measure (SEM) will be administered to both groups at three time intervals: baseline, at the completion of the 5 week intervention, and 6 weeks after the completion of the intervention. Data will be analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA.


Preliminary findings showed a reduction in computer anxiety (p=.003), an increase in computer confidence (p=.02), and computer self-efficacy (p=.01) in older adults (N=6) after completion of intervention as compared to older adults not in the program (N=6).


With the rising numbers of older Americans using the Internet, findings will open up an array of possibilities to engage older adults with the use of internet health information resources to better contribute to their health, independence, safety and well-being.