The impact of Internet use on health-related behaviours and wellbeing of older adults and elderly with disability.



Introduction The use of the Internet brings an opportunity of increasing social inclusion for persons with disabilities. It may be also seen as an indicator of higher education level and more mature health choices. However, excessive use of the Internet may favour unhealthy and sedentary life style. In this paper, the data from a nation-wide survey was analysed to assess the influence of Internet use on health-related behaviours and wellbeing. Methods The Social Diagnosis study is performed every two years in Polish society. From a dataset collected during 2013 wave, data of respondents 50 years old and over with disability were extracted. The impact of Internet use on selected variables related to health behaviours and wellbeing were assessed with univariate logistic regression models. Results The number of respondents included in the analysis was 1678; Internet users made 23.2% (n=389). They declared being less happy (OR; 95%CI; 0.53; 0.32-0.93), but simultaneously, they were less prone to suicidal thoughts (0.12; 0.02-0.73). Furthermore, respondents who were experiencing loneliness were less frequently Internet users (0.66; 0.50-0.87). Persons not declaring any form of physical activity revealed higher odds of using the Internet (4.18; 3.18-5.49). There were no significant differences among Internet users and nonusers as for self-declared excessive alcohol consumption (1.35; 0.70-2.62), being smoker (0.88; 0.70-1.11), and suffering from obesity (1.08; 0.83-1.41). Conclusions Internet users are less prone to feeling happy but also to experiencing suicidal thoughts. Not undertaking any form of physical activity was significantly more frequent among Internet users. Keywords: disability, ageing/elderly, health information systems, health-related behaviours Key messages: 1. Internet use may be associated with health-related behaviours and wellbeing of persons suffering from disability. 2. Older adults and eldelry with disabilities using the Internet tended to experience less suicidal thoughts. 3. The use of the Internet was associated with sedentary life style in analysed group of respondents.


Mariusz Duplaga

Department of Health Promotion, Institute of Public Health, Jagiellonian University Medical College