Elderly patients find it more difficult to access information about their treatment online or over the phone, a new study by the International Longevity Centre has found.
The study found that one in seven respondents aged over 65 reported it was very difficult to find health information online or request it over the phone. The study also found that nurses and doctors are the most trusted source of information, but are often underused in favour of technology. Over 65s were also half as likely as those aged under 24 to contact a medical helpline to seek advice about a condition.
A disparity between old and young patients' attitude towards seeking health advice was also found. Sixty per cent of respondents aged under 24 years old said that they would seek advice via a social network if they discovered a lump on their body, compared to 27 per cent of those aged over 65.
Sally-Marie Bamford, research director at the International Longevity Centre, said: 'While the majority of us do not find it difficult to access health information, this research highlights that there are millions who struggle. Older and younger people trust and use different sources of health information. If we are to have an empowered and healthy older population, improving access to health information is vital.'
The study also raised concerns about the health literacy of the public. It found that 30 per cent of people would not go to the doctor if they found an unexplained lump on their body.
Ms Bamford added: 'As new ways of communicating become more commonplace we must not forget the diversity of our population. We must work to raise the health literacy of all ages.'