Health Disparities and the Digital Divide: The Relationship between Communication Inequalities and Quality of Life among Women in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study in the United States

Morgan M. Philbin, Carrigan Parish, Margaret Pereyra, Daniel J. Feaster, Mardge Cohen, Gina Wingood, Deborah Konkle-Parker, Adebola Adedimeji, Tracey E. Wilson, Jennifer Cohen, Lakshmi Goparaju, Adaora A. Adimora, Elizabeth T. Golub, Lisa R. Metsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Communication inequalities can affect health-seeking behaviors yet the relationship between Internet use and overall health is inconclusive. Communication-related inequalities vary by race/ethnicity and SES but existing research primarily includes middle-class Whites. We therefore examined the relationship between communication-related inequalities—measured by daily Internet use—and health-related quality of life (QOL) using a nationwide prospective cohort study in the United States that consists of primarily low income, minority women. Methods: We examined Internet use and QOL among participants in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. Data collection occurred from October 2014-September 2015 in Chicago, New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chapel Hill, Birmingham/Jackson and Miami. We used multi-variable analyses to examine the relationship between daily Internet use and QOL. Results: The sample of 1,915 women was 73% African American and 15% Hispanic; 53% reported an annual income of ≤$12,000. Women with daily Internet use reported a higher QOL at six months, as did women with at least a high school diploma, income >$12,000, and non-White race; older women and those with reported drug use, depressive symptoms and loneliness had lower QOL. Conclusions: Overcoming communication inequalities may be one pathway through which to improve overall QOL and address public health priorities. Reducing communication-related inequalities—e.g, by providing reliable Internet access—and thus improving access to health promoting information, may lead to improved health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-412
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of health communication
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences

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    Philbin, M. M., Parish, C., Pereyra, M., Feaster, D. J., Cohen, M., Wingood, G., Konkle-Parker, D., Adedimeji, A., Wilson, T. E., Cohen, J., Goparaju, L., Adimora, A. A., Golub, E. T., & Metsch, L. R. (2019). Health Disparities and the Digital Divide: The Relationship between Communication Inequalities and Quality of Life among Women in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study in the United States. Journal of health communication, 24(4), 405-412. https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2019.1630524