Seeking and resolving complex online health information: Age differences in the role of cognitive abilities

Joseph Sharit, Jessica Taha, Ronald W. Berkowsky, Sara J. Czaja

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Presently, adults can exploit a vast amount of online health information for solving relatively complex health problems. This study examined the performance of 60 adults ranging in age from 18-82 years on a complex online health information search task. Measures of search time, amount of search, search accuracy, and six cognitive abilities were obtained. The older participants exhibited similar search accuracy, significantly less amount of search, and significantly longer time to complete the problem compared to the younger participants. For the younger participants having higher cognitive ability typically translated into significantly better search accuracy and greater amount of search accomplished. For the older participants, only processing speed significantly distinguished the lower and higher ability older adults on search accuracy and none of the ability measures differentiated these participants on amount of search. These differences and their implications are discussed in the context of supporting older online health information seekers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
StatePublished - 2016
EventHuman Factors and Ergonomics Society 2016 International Annual Meeting, HFES 2016 - Washington, United States
Duration: Sep 19 2016Sep 23 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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