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Internet use and seeking health information online in Ireland:

Demographic characteristics and mental health characteristics of users and non-users

The role of information technology, and in particular the Internet, has increased in past decades and is increasingly becoming an important part of our day to day lives.  The lack of access to or inability to use information technology will result in exclusion from the information society, which may have negative implications at both an individual and at a societal level.  Furthermore the use of the Internet as a source of health information has increased over the years with people now using the Internet to research health or as a means of self-care and information.

Information on those who use the Internet in general and, in particular, those who seek health information online is important for policy makers in a range of areas.  Identifying the important factors that lead to Internet use in general and online health seeking can help identify the appropriate steps required to reduce the digital divide, ensure an e-inclusive society and to ensure that everyone has access to high quality health information online.
This report investigates the demographic attributes of Internet users and non-users in Ireland and provides an in-depth analysis of the demographic and self-reported mental health characteristics of Internet users who search for health information online. It also examines the willingness of respondents who do not use the Internet as a source of information on health to potentially use it for that purpose.

The report found that there was a substantial number of people experiencing mental health problems that have used the Internet as a source of information on mental health and wellbeing. This highlights the potential of using the Internet for the promotion of mental health and wellbeing.

The report points to the need to review Irish health websites to assess the quality of the information provided and to possibly produce a list of valid and quality sites that can be promoted as a reliable source of information on general and mental health.

A full copy of the report is available in the publications section of the HRB website at