Exploration of Internet Use: Profile and Preferences of Transition-Aged Adolescents with Spina Bifida
Cecily L. Betz, Kathryn A. Smith, Kristy Macias, and Kim Bui
Purpose: A pilot study was conducted to learn about the Internet usage of adolescents with spina bifida. The purpose of this study is to investigate the feasibility for developing an online health care transition intervention.
Methods: Use of the Internet was examined in a convenience sample of 50 adolescents with spina bifida in the Spina Bifida Clinic at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles. Participants were between 14 to 18 years of age. Data are reported as percentages and frequency distributions.
Results: Ninety-two percent of adolescents with spina bifida used the Internet, and of those, 87% used it at home, with an average rate of 2.4 hours per day. The majority of adolescents used the Internet for homework purposes (83%). Lei sure activities, such as listening to music (76%), playing games (70%), meeting new friends/social networking (63%), and watching YouTube videos (61%), were also reported. Most participants have never used the Internet to obtain spina bifida information (67%) or to meet other adolescents with spina bifida (85%).
Conclusion: Internet application as an outreach tool for education and transition planning should be further explored in future studies. Given the widespread reported access to the Internet among our participants, results suggest that a Web-based outreach tool for education and health care transition planning have the potential to be accessible and beneficial to adolescents with spina bifida with the facilitated support of health care professionals.