The adult market (ages 50+) for online health information falls into four segments according to a report on research conducted by GroupM and Millward Brown.
They find that while more US adults go online for health information, 52% are still ambivalent about doing so. The segments they identify include:
Senior Hopefuls (15% of the market or 13.1 million) - don't currently go online, but would consider it if Web sites were simpler to or a caregiver or gatekeeper searched for them.
Trusted Challenged (11% or 9.6 million) - a group that routinely goes online, but doesn't look for online health-related information because they question its credibility.
Gatekeeper Users (12% or 10.5 million) - are not confident using the Web on their own, so they have friends and/or family do it for them.
Old School (9% or roughly 7.8 million seniors) - are considered largely unreachable for marketers via the Internet. This group doesn't go online and believes there is no reason to use the Web.
The researchers point to the advantage of targeting caregivers or gatekeepers as a leverage point for bridging that gap between positive intentions and seeking health information online for oneself. Digital divides continue to narrow for having the technology and the desire to use the internet as a health information resource among the mature market. Yet, having the digital health literacy skills (including being able to filter credible content in searches and then understand and act on it) will be an on-going and growing concern for public health policy.