The Impact of the Democratization of Health Information on Elders

May 19, 2008 at 12:12 am 1 comment

Hongtu Chen and I, with some inspiration from Larry Prusack, just finished a journal paper on The Impact of the Democratization of Health Information on Elders. Here is the abstract:

Thanks to the Internet, elders have access to an unprecedented amount of health information about diseases and medications.  Much of this is information previously only available to medical professionals. The ease of locating – or the democratization of – health information has benefits and drawbacks. The benefits to elders are the ability to learn about all aspects of health whenever they choose. The drawbacks are that, due to lack of medical training and poor health literacy, they may not be able to effectively discern the quality of, comprehend, and use what they find online, and, worse, may rely on what they find online instead of seeking professional medical care.

Entry filed under: health, online health communities. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jerry Halberstadt  |  January 15, 2009 at 7:02 am


    Why should elders be different than other patients using the internet? As you wrote in March 2008, “With consumer-directed care, patients are being asked to play a greater role in their health care. Moreover, those with chronic diseases often get better counsel from other sufferers than they do from physicians.”

    Chronic disease is a major public health concern, and as people age they may have multiple chronic conditions. Often physicians are not aware of the best ways to manage a chronic condition and may not have the resources or motivation to help their patients. Given the limitations of health care today, there seem to be many benefits for people of all ages to get information and support wherever they can find it.


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Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa:


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