The intersection of gender and place in online health activities

Melinda Goldner, Timothy M. Hale, Shelia R. Cotten, Michael J. Stern, Patricia Drentea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines how rurality and gender are related to online health activities. Rural women face greater health risks and yet have access to a weaker health system infrastructure, which has resulted in a health disadvantage. New health information technologies may ameliorate some of these disparities; thus, the authors examine the relevance of gender and place in going online to search for health information, buy medicines, participate in health-related support groups, communicate with physicians, or maintain a personal health record. Analyzing data from the National Cancer Institute's 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey, the authors found that the relations between rurality and gender vary, depending on the specific type of online health activity, and that gender may be a more salient factor than rurality in determining whether individuals engage in particular types of online health activities. This study contributes to the literature by examining how gender and place are related to online health activities, a combined area neglected in past research, and advancing research on gender and technology. This research highlights the importance of expanding high-speed access in rural locations, increasing technological and health literacy, and tailoring the Internet to specific populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1235-1255
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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