Sustaining Information and Communication Technology use among Canadians with at Least One Activity Limitation

By Wendy Young, Jared Clarke, George Klima, Veeresh Gadag, Lan Gien and Irene Hardill.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Objective: There are few studies that describe the characteristics of individuals who transition from information and communication technology usage to non-usage. The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics of non-sustaining Internet users who reported at least one activity limitation to the 2006 Canadian census. Non-sustainers are past users who have not used the Internet during the last 12 months.

Methods: We analyzed data from the respondents of the 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS 2006) using descriptive analyses. The demographic and clinical profiles of those who had given up using the Internet (non-sustainers) were compared to that of people who had continued using the Internet (sustainers).

Results: PALS 2006 surveyed adult Canadians with at least one activity limitation. While nearly half of all respondents reported having used the Internet in the past, 9.8% of those had not used it in the past 12 months and were designated “non-sustainers”. Individuals who were older (60+ years of age; 44.4%), were in the lowest income category (53.8%), and lived in rural communities (28.1%) were over-represented in the non-sustainer group compared to those who had sustained Internet usage. The most commonly reported limitations were pain (68.8%), mobility (67.5%), and agility (58.3%), although overall Internet usage and dropout rate were not markedly different between conditions. More than one-third of non-sustainers reported taking five or more prescribed medications on a daily basis, compared to less than one-quarter of sustainers.

Conclusion: Compared to the general population, a high percentage of people with activity limitations report not having sustained their Internet usage. While the clinical profile of this group is not markedly different from those who continue to use the Internet, non-sustainers are more likely to be older, have less income and live in a rural community. We recommend that further research be conducted to identify the reasons for giving up the Internet and potential interventions to increase sustainability since a lack of digital engagement may lead to greater disadvantage for people with disabilities.

Keywords: Non-usage, Activity Limitation, Canada, Aging

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 931.433KB).

Dr. Wendy Young

Faculty of Medicine, School of Nursing and Division of Community Health & Humanities, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada

Dr. Wendy Young completed her PhD training in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto and a CHSRF/CIHR Post Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto and York University. Her research focuses on what makes for healthy aging in the community, and on reducing the effects of common age-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, and cardiac disease. Currently, she holds a Canada Research Chair in Healthy Aging at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Dr. Jared Clarke

NLCAHR Healthy Aging Research Program Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Community Health & Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada

Jared J Clarke received his PhD from the Division of BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). He was subsequently awarded the inaugural Healthy Aging Research Program (HARP) post-doctoral fellowship from the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research (NLCAHR) and is positioned in the Division of Community Health & Humanities, Faculty of Medicine at MUN. While much of his previous research has centered around stroke and cerebrovascular disease, the role of technology in promoting healthy aging is a recent focus in his work with the co-authors of this publication. Dr. Clarke has served on numerous provincial and national committees related to stroke research strategies and the development of key training initiatives for young researchers in the fields of stroke, neuroscience and aging.

Dr. George Klima

Researcher, School of Nursing, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada

Dr. Veeresh Gadag

Faculty of Medicine, Division of Community Health & Humanities, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada

Prof. Lan Gien

School of Nursing, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada

Dr. Irene Hardill

Professor of Public Policy, Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University, Northumbria University, NL, UK


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