Those with chronic disease less likely to use Internet, according to report

April 15, 2010

Your patients with chronic disease may use the Internet less than your other patients and also may remain more strongly connected to you and other offline sources of medical assistance, including friends, family, and books, compared with your other patients.

Patients with chronic disease may use the Internet less than other patients and also may remain more strongly connected to physicians and other offline sources of medical assistance, including friends, family, and books, compared with other patients. These points are among the findings relayed in "Chronic Disease and the Internet," a new report by the Pew Internet Project.

Sixty-two percent of adults living with chronic disease have access to the Internet, compared with 81 percent of adults who report no chronic diseases, and this Internet access gap creates an online health information gap, according to the report.

"The deck is stacked against people living with chronic disease. They are disproportionately offline. They often have complicated health issues, not easily solved by the addition of even the best, most reliable, medical advice," says Susannah Fox, an associate director of the Pew Internet Project and a co-author of the report.

Once they have Internet access, however, people living with chronic disease report significant benefits from the health resources found online, according to project officials. "Those who are online have a trump card," says Fox. "They have each other. Those who have access use the Internet like a secret weapon, unearthing and sharing nuggets of information found online."

The report is based on a national telephone survey that included 2,253 American adults, 36 percent of whom are living with chronic diseases such as heart conditions, pulmonary conditions, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.

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