An examination of internet use for health information among Canadian baby boomers using the 2000 general social survey

The internet is a powerful health promotion tool, and it’s predicted that this technology has the potential to influence the way health information and services are distributed and accessed. Baby boomers (those born 1946-1965) are a prime target for this type of health promotion technology, since they have been exposed to the growth and widespread use of the Internet. Additionally, baby boomers are more concerned about healthy lifestyles and healthy aging than previous generations, are more interested in self-help resources, and are more demanding of good service. While previous research has found a high percentage of internet access and use among older Americans, no surveys have been carried out in the Canadian context. With the proper education and tools, baby boomers can not only delay functional loss, but improve their current health status and prevent the onset of several chronic illnesses and disabilities that begin to appear in mid-life. Providing them with appropriate, targeted resources requires knowledge about current utilization trends, needs, barriers and other concerns that could be hindering them from seeking online information regarding their health. Danielle Sinden is using national data gathered as part of the 2000 General Social Survey to examine trends, types, and levels of access to the Internet. She is also exploring predictors of health information-seeking behaviour, including sex, socioeconomic status, living arrangement/marital status, foreign-born status, region of residence, and perceived barriers and usefulness. Sinden’s research will lay a foundation of knowledge for developing online health promotion strategies targeting modifiable risk factors for baby boomers. Ultimately, this could lead to more favourable long term health outcomes that contribute to healthy aging.