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Do Internet usage and education play a role in health inequalities? A study of the Spanish population aged 50-79

Sergi Trias-Llimós, Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics (CERCA/UAB)
Project selected in the Call to support research projects on technology and society (FS21-1B)

Socioeconomic inequalities in health persist in Spain. This can be explained, partly, by the interaction of multiple variables, including education and gender. The covid-19 pandemic intensified the potential impact of two critical factors on health inequalities: health literacy and the socioeconomic digital divide. This article explores these factors within the relationship between education and individual self-reported health status among a representative sample of the Spanish population aged 50-79. The main findings suggest that women report worse health than men, and that low-educated groups report worse health than their high-educated counterparts. Internet usage and having “adequate” levels of health literacy are associated with better health among the low-educated groups.
Key points
  • 1
       In Spain, high-educated groups tend to report better health (66% of women and 75% of men report good health) than their low-educated counterparts (50% of women and 62% of men report good health).
  • 2
       Health literacy refers to the ability of individuals to meet and understand complex demands for promoting and maintaining health. It is related positively to health outcomes in women, but not in men.
  • 3
       The group reporting worse health was that of women with low education and “inadequate” levels of health literacy (47%).
  • 4
       Internet usage was found to be positively associated with good health in both men and women, but the association seems stronger among the low-educated groups.
  • 5
       Internet usage and health literacy are associated with educational differences in health. Improving the population’s health literacy, educating all social groups and providing them with access to the Internet could contribute to reducing health inequalities.
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