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Chronic Disease Linked to Less Internet Usage

Healthy people more likely to gather information online, survey finds

THURSDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- People who suffer from chronic illness are more likely to be chronically offline: they use the Internet much less than healthier people, a new survey finds.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation, and published online March 24, found that just 62 percent of adults surveyed who suffer from a chronic disease go online, compared to 81 percent of those who don't have a chronic disease.

Adults who have more than one chronic disease are even less likely to go online: 68 percent of people with one chronic disease do, compared with just 52 percent of those who have two or more chronic diseases.

The findings reflect general statistics about who uses the Internet and who doesn't. Those who don't go online are more likely to be older, black, less educated and have a lower income, the survey found.

However, the researchers noted that chronic illness reduced the likelihood that a person will go online even after they adjusted their statistics to account for the influence of these factors.

People with chronic disease even spend less time than healthier people looking up information about health topics: 51 percent of the chronically ill participants reported doing so, compared to two-thirds of the others who were surveyed.

The results showed that there was one way that people with chronic disease stood out regarding Internet use: When statistics were adjusted to account for the influence of factors such as race and age, the researchers found that those with a chronic disease were more likely to write on a blog or contribute to discussions online.

More information

The full report is available from the Pew Research Center.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Pew Foundation Survey, news release, March 24, 2010

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