Older people are among the segments of the population for which the digital divide is most persistent and are considered to be at risk of losing out on the potential benefits that the information society can provide to their quality of life. Little attention has been paid, however, to relationships between Internet use and actual indicators of health among older people.
The aim of this study was to examine the association between Internet use and self-rated health among older people and determine whether this association holds independently of socioeconomic position.
Data were from a survey about the digital divide and quality of life among older people in Spain that was conducted in 2008. The final sample consisted of 709 individuals and was representative of the Spanish adult population in terms of Internet use and sex across two age groups (55-64 and 65-74 years). Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the relationship between Internet use and self-rated health.
Results initially showed a significant relationship between Internet use and poor self-rated health (Model 1, OR = 0.32, 95% CI 0.16-0.67, P = .002), suggesting that Internet users have better self-rated health than nonusers. This effect remained significant when other sociodemographic variables were entered into the equation (Model 2, OR = 0.39, 95% CI 0.18-0.83, P = .01; Model 3, OR = 0.41, 95% CI 0.19-0.87, P = .02). However, the significant relationship between Internet use and self-rated health disappeared once social class was considered (Model 4, OR = 0.61, 95% CI 0.27-1.37, P = .23).