Seeking and resolving complex online health information: Age differences in the role of cognitive abilities
Quality of Life
Spinal Cord Injuries
Copyright 2016 by Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Presently, adults can exploit a vast amount of online health information for solving relatively complex health problems. This study examined the performance of 60 adults ranging in age from 18-82 years on a complex online health information search task. Measures of search time, amount of search, search accuracy, and six cognitive abilities were obtained. The older participants exhibited similar search accuracy, significantly less amount of search, and significantly longer time to complete the problem compared to the younger participants. For the younger participants having higher cognitive ability typically translated into significantly better search accuracy and greater amount of search accomplished. For the older participants, only processing speed significantly distinguished the lower and higher ability older adults on search accuracy and none of the ability measures differentiated these participants on amount of search. These differences and their implications are discussed in the context of supporting older online health information seekers.