How Age and Other Factors Influence Online Heath Information
A new study published in the Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making aims to evaluate the types of search strategies that Internet users adopt when trying to solve a complicated health problem. Because consumers have access to multiple websites to search for online health information and can be far more involved in managing their own medical issues than ever before, researchers asked 60 adults between the ages of 18 and 85 to complete cognitive ability tests that measured skills such as processing time, reasoning ability and executive function. Participants were then asked to use the Internet to research and answer a series of questions related to a complex health information problem. Researchers explained that this type of sustained online information-seeking can be more cognitively taxing for users than simple search tasks because one must find, filter, comprehend and integrate health information that is often distributed across multiple sources. The researchers found that younger participants and those who scored higher on the cognitive tests were more likely to use an analytical approach by manipulating key words in search engines until they achieved the desired results. Although older participants took longer to complete their tasks, their searches were more efficient and their responses were just as accurate as those of the younger respondents. Despite the increasing power of search engines, we should not underestimate how difficult health-related problem solving using the Internet can be for many individuals, said researchers. To read more about this study, click here.
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