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Challenges and Opportunities with Empowering Baby Boomers for Personal Health Information Management Using Consumer Health Information Technologies: an Ecological Perspective

1 College for Public Health and Social Justice, Department of Health Management and Policy, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO 63104, USA;
2 Medical Center Library, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO 63104, USA;
3 College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO 63104, USA;
4 School of Nursing, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO 63104, USA;
5 Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, College for Public Health and Social Justice, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO 63104, USA

Special Issues: Addressing Understudied and Vulnerable Populations and Health Systems

“Baby Boomers” (adults born between the years of 1946 and 1964) make up the largest segment of the population in many countries, including the United States (about 78 million Americans) [1]. As Baby Boomers reach retirement age and beyond, many will have increasing medical needs and thus demand more health care resources that will challenge the healthcare system. Baby Boomers will likely accelerate the movement toward patient self-management and prevention efforts. Consumer Health Information Technologies (CHIT) hold promise for empowering health consumers to take an active role in health maintenance and disease management, and thus, have the potential to address Baby Boomers' health needs. Such innovations require changes in health care practice and processes that take into account Baby Boomers' personal health needs, preferences, health culture, and abilities to use these technologies. Without foundational knowledge of barriers and opportunities, Baby Boomers may not realize the potential of these innovations for improving self-management of health and health outcomes. However, research to date has not adequately explored the degree to which Baby Boomers are ready to embrace consumer health information technology and how their unique subcultures affect adoption and diffusion. This position paper describes an ecological conceptual framework for understanding and studying CHIT aimed at satisfying the personal health needs of Baby Boomers. We explore existing literature to provide a detailed depiction of our proposed conceptual framework, which focuses characteristics influencing Baby Boomers and their Personal Health Information Management (PHIM) and potential information problems. Using our ecological framework as a backdrop, we provide insight and implications for future research based on literature and underlying theories represented in our model.
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