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Computer skills and internet use in adults aged 50-74 years: influence of hearing difficulties

Henshaw, Helen; Clark, Daniel P.A.; Kang, Sujin; Ferguson, Melanie A.


Daniel P.A. Clark

Sujin Kang

Melanie A. Ferguson



The use of personal computers (PCs) and the Internet to provide health care information and interventions has increased substantially over the past decade. Yet the effectiveness of such an approach is highly dependent upon whether the target population has both access and the skill set required to use this technology. This is particularly relevant in the delivery of hearing health care because most people with hearing loss are over 50 years (average age for initial hearing aid fitting is 74 years). Although PC skill and Internet use by demographic factors have been examined previously, data do not currently exist that examine the effects of hearing difficulties on PC skill or Internet use in older adults.


To explore the effect that hearing difficulty has on PC skill and Internet use in an opportunistic sample of adults aged 50-74 years.


Postal questionnaires about hearing difficulty, PC skill, and Internet use (n=3629) were distributed to adults aged 50-74 years through three family physician practices in Nottingham, United Kingdom. A subsample of 84 respondents completed a second detailed questionnaire on confidence in using a keyboard, mouse, and track pad. Summed scores were termed the "PC confidence index." The PC confidence index was used to verify the PC skill categories in the postal questionnaire (ie, never used a computer, beginner, and competent).


The postal questionnaire response rate was 36.78% (1298/3529) and 95.15% (1235/1298) of these contained complete information. There was a significant between-category difference for PC skill by PC confidence index (P


Henshaw, H., Clark, D. P., Kang, S., & Ferguson, M. A. (2012). Computer skills and internet use in adults aged 50-74 years: influence of hearing difficulties. JMIR, 14(4), Article e113.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 24, 2012
Publication Date Aug 24, 2012
Deposit Date Apr 8, 2015
Publicly Available Date Apr 8, 2015
Journal Journal of Medical Internet Research
Electronic ISSN 1438-8871
Publisher JMIR Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 4
Article Number e113
Keywords hearing loss; hearing difficulties; screening; intervention; hearing health care; eHealth; personal computer; internet use
Public URL
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