Elderly internet use – Understand it. #Tips4EyeDocs

Elderly internet use for health information is a common occurrence  either for general use or in preparation to a visit to their doctor.  Studies support the growing use of the Internet to research symptoms, chronic diseases and medications that has expanded since Campbell’s (2005) study of elderly internet use.  Here are some key messages from a variety of sources that are online.

Who uses the Internet to find health information







Campbell (2005) .Despite its vintage, Campbell found that 67% of respondents in his research found the internet had improved their understanding of their health  but only 19% was able to use it to better manage their health. For optometrists, this implies that the elderly may know more about their conditions, but they are not able to begin or relate that knowledge to better their care.

rfinkel (a pseudonym) writes that the most common search term is a specific disease and condition (see graphic below) . Coupled with the above implication from Campbell, the elderly will search for a specific disease condition, understand it, but cannot relate it to their current optometric eye care.

Elderly Internet Use

Source: rfinkel

 In summary, optometrists should not fear the elderly internet use for health information. They are more knowledgeable about their condition and may ask more question. In the end, they will need professional consultation to manage their acute or chronic eye problems should they exist.

Sources and further reading:

  1. Campbell, R.J. “Consumer informatics: Elderly persons and the Internet.” Perspectives in Health Information Management, 2005 May 09. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2047318/. Retrieved 03 July 2012
  2. Anonymous (aka rfinkel) “Technology applications and the fast-moving elderly: The facts on the Ground. Candidaabrahamson blog site. Available online at http://candidaabrahamson.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/technology-applications-and-the-fast-moving-elderly-part-i-the-facts-on-the-ground/ Retrieved 03 July 2012

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of Dr. Hom. There are no disclosures for this post. © Copyright 2012 Richard Hom OD MPA aka “Tips4EyeDocs” [nicepaypal type=”Donate”].

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