data about such use, although some national and regional data do exist. Furthermore, little is known about the extent to which people of color have access to, or interest in, using the Internet for health-related activities.
For these reasons researchers at the HHPC spent a significant amount of time collecting data using a random-digit-dial survey of 646 Harlem residents 18 years of age and older. The survey collected data on the use of and access to different types of technology as well as data on demographics, general health, and health-information-seeking behaviors. About 77 percent of responders said they had used a computer and 87 percent reported having friends or family who use the Internet. This is useful information for understanding diffusion of and normative support for technology use.
The survey also found that 68 percent of respondents had one or more computers at home and 57 percent used the Internet at home. For those who did not have a computer at home, 76 percent said they knew where a computer was publicly available. Sixty percent of respondents said that the most important problem in accessing the computer is overcrowding. Other problems in access were cost (2 percent), equipment problems (4 percent), location or transportation (8 percent), and hours of operation (13 percent). It is certainly true in Harlem that libraries have long lines waiting for access to the Internet. These data show that there is an interest in using technology.
An examination of the demographics of those surveyed reveals that younger people are more likely to use the Internet, that English-speakers are more likely to use the Internet than those whose first language is other than English, and that African-Americans are more likely to be Internet users than Hispanics and Latinos. The data also show that Internet users are more likely to have higher educational attainment, are more likely to be employed, and have higher incomes than those who do not use the Internet. Internet users also had a higher perceived self-health rating.
As the data in Table 3-1 show, Internet users are more able to find health information and have less difficulty understanding it than non-users. On the other hand, there is no significant difference between Internet users and non-users when asked if they bring up something they have seen or read with the doctor.
Survey participants were also asked where they went the last time they needed information on a health issue. Doctors were the main source of information for both Internet users (44 percent) and non-users (78 percent), although non-users were much more likely to go to their doctors for information. The major difference between the groups was that 39 percent of Internet users said that they went to the internet for health information, which implies that the Internet users go to the internet for health information almost as often as they go to their doctors.