Can Lack Of Internet Use Be Detrimental With Chronic Illness?


The Internet has become a valuable self-care tool for obtaining information about how to manage chronic illnesses and diseases, but a new study shows that not logging in could actually contribute to negative health.

New findings, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, found that chronically ill women who don’t use the Internet may struggle with poorer health. Researchers at Oregon State University tracked 418 women ages 44 and older, all of whom had at least one chronic health condition. More than one-third of the women didn’t use the Internet.

The study was broken into two parts. The first analyzed data in terms of socio-demographics, disease types and healthcare management associated with internet use, and the second focused on the 251 internet-using women to identify the online self- care resources they use and for what purposes.

Lead researcher Carolyn Mendez-Luck noted that “a significantly larger proportion of non-Internet users reported needing help learning what to do to manage their health conditions and needing help learning how to care for their health conditions.” Less than half of the study participants used the Internet to learn how to manage their chronic condition, while just 20% took part in online chats about how to manage their condition.

“We want people to be able to optimize their health,” said Mendez-Luck in a university news release. “It really seemed to be the lower-resourced individuals who weren’t using the Internet and thus online resources. If you’re older, if you’re a member of a minority group, if you’re less educated, if you’re not working, all of those things work against you and impede your use of the Internet. That’s what this research suggests.”