Online health information seeking: The influence of age, information trustworthiness, and search challenges

Lisa M Soederberg Miller, Robert A. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Objectives: The Internet holds great potential to support information gathering and decision making surrounding health education and self-care. Older adults, however, underutilize the Internet for health information searches relative to younger adults. The goal of the present study was to examine age differences in the role of trust and ease of search in predicting whether or not individuals use (adopters) or do notuse (nonadopters) the Internet to search for health information. Method: We used logistic regressions todetermine whether there were age differences in the extent to which trust and ease of search predicted online health information searches within a nationally-representative sample of 3796 adults from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). Results: Adopters were more trusting of Internet health informationthan nonadopters. However, a significant age by trust interaction indicated that this difference increased in magnitude with age, a pattern that held even after controlling for demographic and health variables. Conclusions: Older adults may benefit from special instructions designed to boost Internet trust, for example, learning how to distinguish between high and low quality health-related websites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-541
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • aging
  • communication
  • health education
  • health information
  • Internet
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Community and Home Care


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