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Cancer Control Research

Viswanath, Kasisomayajula


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Health Literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions (US DHHS, 2000). Yet there is well-documented evidence for profound inequalities in the distribution of communications services, the digital divide, and advantages accruing from it thus threatening the normative goal of developing a health literate public. The research question guiding this project is: Does improving access to the Internet, and training in how to use the Internet for health information, among the socially disadvantaged lead to changes in health literacy, and secondarily in health knowledge and beliefs about health compared to a control group in usual care condition? We will recruit 258 subjects from adult education centers in Boston, the most diverse city in New England, and randomize them to either the intervention or control conditions. 129 subjects in the intervention group will be provided with free computers and high-speed Internet at home. They will also be provided with training on how to use computers and navigate the Internet, as well as a web portal that will help in the use of the Internet for one year. Intervention will occur in three waves with 43 subjects per wave per year. Baseline and post-Intervention data .will be gathered through a telephone survey of subjects in both groups and Internet and computer use will be tracked in the Intervention group. The data from this project will provide the necessary information to design future information architecture that can address health literacy and digital divide issues specific to the needs of the socially disadvantaged.

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