Date of Award

5-13-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Erin Ruel

Second Advisor

Deirdre Oakley

Third Advisor

Dawn Baunach

Abstract

With increasing usage of the Internet for a variety of activities, including health information seeking, there is opportunity for the technology to have a pivotal impact on reducing health disparities. Using a Fundamental Causes framework (Link and Phelan 1997), this thesis explores whether or not Internet usage for health information seeking reduces racial health disparities. Using data from the Pew Research Center this study examined active and passive health information seeking and the impact they have on health outcomes among blacks, whites, and Hispanics. The health conditions included self-rated health, high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease. The results indicate participating in active or passive health information seeking had little or no impact on decreasing the chronic health conditions. Additionally, the results show participating in active or passive health seeking activities has a mixed impact on decreasing chronic health conditions across racial groups.

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