← ESA 2015 homepage

Ageing and Health


Thu 27. 8.  14:00 - 15:30
room FA 203

Online health information seeking and Italian families in the ageing societies


Lovari, Alessandro; Cioni, Elisabetta; Tronu, Paola
Università degli Studi di Sassari, Italy

In the European ageing societies, family care came out as an important complement to the safety net provided by welfare systems for the frail elderly. In the digital age family caregivers can use Internet and social media to improve his/her own caring activity (Reinhard et al. 2012). Indeed, individuals with long-standing illness or health problems can also ask other persons, such as relatives or friends, to search for online health information on their behalf. Research evidence (Lupiañez-Villanueva et al. 2012) indicated that this new scenario entails new social inequalities, due to persistent barriers for online health information seeking and for the proper use of health information, pertaining mostly to older women, inactives, and those with lower levels of education. Our study focused on Italy, a peculiar case study within the European context, characterized by a prominent role of the family for the healthcare of the growing-up segment of the elderly and oldest-old population (Saraceno 2008). We extracted two data samples from the 2011 e 2013 ISTAT Comprehensive Survey on “Aspects of daily life”. Using binomial logistic regression models, we highlighted the correlations between being in poor health conditions, or caring/cohabitating with relatives or loved ones with health problems, and the likelihood of being an active online information seeker. The analysis confirmed the relevance of socio-demographic variables such as gender, age, and level of education for taking advantage of the opportunities provided by Internet, but it also confirmed the specific strength of kin ties characterizing the Italian families.