Fischler College of Education: Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Thomas J. Thompson

Committee Member

Gail M. Johnson

Abstract

The Internet provides immediate access to social contacts and health information, yet older adults remain one of the least likely groups to use the Internet in the United States. Older adults can gain significantly from health information through the Internet because they have more chronic health conditions compared to other age groups. Although computers are gaining acceptance among older adults, some remain skeptical about computers, particularly the Internet, but are intrigued by the increasing popularity of computers. Research shows that older adults can learn to use computers and the Internet, and they can benefit from knowing how to access quality health information websites. However, the computer and Internet health information concerns of the rural elderly have not been addressed. Rural older adults in the United States have limited access to health-care providers, experience significant health disparities, are more likely to rate their overall health status as fair to poor, and have more difficulty completing their daily activities due to disabling health conditions. The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of providing theory-based computer and Internet skills training to rural-dwelling older adults and explore the effects on their ability to locate and evaluate online health information. An 8-hour instruction program addressing computer and Internet features and functions and evaluation of online health information for credibility was provided to 24 older adults living in a rural area of the southeastern United States. Results indicated that this type of training is certainly feasible using the resources in rural settings, and older adults in rural areas are interested in this type of instruction. Findings indicated a statistically significant increase in computer and Internet knowledge, t = 3.49, p = .002, and skills, t = 7.11, p = .000, as well as improved self-perceptions of electronic health literacy, t = 10.37, p = .000. This research can aid in determining best practices to help rural older adults bridge the technology divide to improve health self-management and well-being.

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