Background: Access to health information is crucial to persons living with a spinal cord injury or disorder (SCI/D). Although previous research has provided insights on computer and Internet use among persons with SCI/D, as well as how and where persons with SCI/D gather health information, few studies have focused on U.S. veterans with SCI/D. Objective: To characterize health information seeking among veterans with SCI/D and to examine the association between technology use and the characteristics of veterans with SCI/D. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Participants: Sample of 290 veterans with SCI/D who utilize services at 2 VHA SCI/D Centers. Methods: Postal mail survey. Main Outcome Measurements: Extent of computer, Internet, and text messaging use, information source use, and e-Health literacy rates. Results: The survey response rate was 38%. The majority of respondents were male (97.2%), younger than 65 years (71.0%), and white (71.7%). Of the respondents, 64.8% indicated that they use a computer, 62.9% reported use of the Internet, and 26.2% reported use of text messaging. The mean overall e-Health Literacy Scale score was 27.3 (standard deviation = 7.2). Similar to findings reported in studies focused outside the veteran population, the most frequent source that veterans turned to for information about SCI/D was a health professional (85.1%); this was also the most frequent source that veterans indicated they would turn to first to get information about SCI/D (75.9%). Other frequently reported sources of information included other persons with SCI/D (41.0%), Internet resources (31.0%), and family and friends (27.9%). Conclusions: Fairly high levels of computer and Internet use exist among veterans with SCI/D. Veterans with SCI/D also have a strong preference for people-particularly health professionals, and to a lesser extent peers and family and friends-as sources of information about SCI/D. These findings highlight the importance of combining technology and human interaction to meet the information needs of this population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
- Clinical Neurology