Psychosocial, Socio-Demographic and Health Determinants in Information Communication Technology Use by Older-Adults

Sammanfattning: The aim of the thesis was to investigate factors influencing ICT use by older-adults. A selection of psycho-social, socio-demographic and health determinants were investigated with Internet use. Data were collected through questionnaires (Studies I-III) and interviews (Study IV). Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted, investigating Internet use as a dichotomous variable, with the aforementioned factors. The results indicated that psycho-social determinants did not affect older-adults’ Internet use (Study I). Scoring higher on the personality traits openness and extraversion did not affect whether the older adults started to use the Internet (Study II). However, well-being increased for some frail older-adults when using the tablet computer and connected to the Internet (Study IV). Some socio-demographic determinants affected Internet use. Being younger in age was a strong contributing factor in all four studies whether the older-adult would use the Internet. Higher education influenced Internet use (Study I & III), correlated with living in a rural or urban setting (Study III); yet education was not influencing whether they would start to use the Internet. Living alone was correlated with Internet use, especially if the older-adult lived in an urban setting (Study III). Functional disability and household economy did not affect Internet use. Finally, the health determinants on Internet use were quite strong. Normal cognitive functioning influenced whether older-adults would start to use the Internet (Study II). The older-adult living in an urban environment, would use the Internet if they had normal cognitive functioning (Study III). It was noted also from Study IV that the learning to use the Tablet PC and Skype took longer for older people and more repetition was needed. Being frail was a strong factor whether the older-adult would use the Internet. They would not want to learn or try to use the technology if they were too ill (Study IV). The findings show only a small increase (7.7%) in Internet use by older-adults over time. The indicators of non-use are: higher in age, lower educated, living alone or rurally, lower cognition and frailty. There are two different profiles of rural and urban Internet users. These determinants along with an understanding of the use of technology, and a good support system, are a few pillars in ICT adoption by older-adults. As ICT continues to develop as a means to provide better health care, it will be important to take into account the abovementioned indicators. In certain cases Internet use is not a given, which continues to exclude older-adults. Part of healthy aging is social participation; therefore being connected and included in the digital society is important. Alternative and not only one design solutions should be explored in health care and by organisations, so as to cater to the heterogeneity of the aging population.