“Silver surfers” who use the Internet on a regular basis have better health practices according to recent research from University College London.
Being able to surf the web and maintaining a cultural life improves health literacy
University College London has conducted a study over 2 years on health literacy skills of nearly 4,500 adults in England aged 52 or older. Researchers were interested in their use of the Internet and their interest in civic, leisure, and cultural activities over the course of 6 years.
Researchers found out that there was a link between age and declining of health literacy, among other factors such as being in a state of dependance, poorer memory and executive functions. At the start of the study, 73% of the surveyed people had adequate health literacy. After six years, for nearly 20% of them, their score went down by one or more points.
The “Silver surfers” use the Internet as a source of medical information that improves their health literacy.
Researcher Lindsay Kobayashi of UCL said: “Internet use and engagement in various social activities, in particular cultural activities, appear to help older adults maintain the skills required to self-manage health.” She added: “The results indicate that health literacy skills are fluid over time, that loss of literacy skills during ageing is not inevitable, and that technological and social factors should be understood as influences on literacy skills.”
Despite these results, researchers state the conclusions of the study are not definitive as it was only an observational study.