Internet-Based Resources for Disease Self-Care among Middle-Aged and Older Women with Chronic Conditions


Objective: This two-part study analyzed data collected from middle-aged (age 44-64) and older women (age 65+) with one or more chronic conditions who completed the National Council on Aging Chronic Care Survey. Materials and Methods: Part One analyzed data from 418 women to describe sociodemographics, disease types, and healthcare utilization associated with Internet use among middle-aged and older women with 1 or more chronic diseases. Part Two analyzed data from the 251 Internet-using women to identify the online self-care resources they are using (format, host organization) and for what purposes. Results: Approximately 31% of participants were age 65 years or older, 30% reported having three or more chronic condition types, and 65% reported using the Internet. A significantly larger proportion of older women reported multiple chronic conditions, and a significantly fewer number of older women reported using the Internet. A significantly smaller proportion of Internet users were non-Hispanic white, more educated, and employed. 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. Among only Internet-using women, 18.7% participated in online discussions/chatrooms/listserv and 45.2% read about the experiences of others with chronic diseases. Interest in websites and online courses varied. Conclusion: Understanding Internet use among women with chronic conditions can inform targeted efforts to increase Internet availability, educate potential users about the benefits of online resources, and effectively tailor Internet-based materials to self-care needs.

Publication Title

Journal of Women's Health