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Health Information Seeking and Technology Use Among Veterans With Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders.

Hogan TP, Hill JN, Locatelli SM, Weaver FM, Thomas FP, Nazi KM, Goldstein B, Smith BM. Health Information Seeking and Technology Use Among Veterans With Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders. PM & R : the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation. 2016 Feb 1; 8(2):123-30.

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Access to health information is crucial to persons living with a spinal cord injury or disorder (SCI/D). Although previous research has provided insights on computer and Internet use among persons with SCI/D, as well as how and where persons with SCI/D gather health information, few studies have focused on U.S. veterans with SCI/D. OBJECTIVE: To characterize health information seeking among veterans with SCI/D and to examine the association between technology use and the characteristics of veterans with SCI/D. DESIGN: Cross-sectional. SETTING: Veterans Health Administration (VHA). PARTICIPANTS: Sample of 290 veterans with SCI/D who utilize services at 2 VHA SCI/D Centers. METHODS: Postal mail survey. MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: Extent of computer, Internet, and text messaging use, information source use, and e-Health literacy rates. RESULTS: The survey response rate was 38%. The majority of respondents were male (97.2%), younger than 65 years (71.0%), and white (71.7%). Of the respondents, 64.8% indicated that they use a computer, 62.9% reported use of the Internet, and 26.2% reported use of text messaging. The mean overall e-Health Literacy Scale score was 27.3 (standard deviation = 7.2). Similar to findings reported in studies focused outside the veteran population, the most frequent source that veterans turned to for information about SCI/D was a health professional (85.1%); this was also the most frequent source that veterans indicated they would turn to first to get information about SCI/D (75.9%). Other frequently reported sources of information included other persons with SCI/D (41.0%), Internet resources (31.0%), and family and friends (27.9%). CONCLUSIONS: Fairly high levels of computer and Internet use exist among veterans with SCI/D. Veterans with SCI/D also have a strong preference for people-particularly health professionals, and to a lesser extent peers and family and friends-as sources of information about SCI/D. These findings highlight the importance of combining technology and human interaction to meet the information needs of this population.





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