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Research Letter
August 20, 2008

Usability of the Medicare Health Web Site

JAMA. 2008;300(7):790-792. doi:10.1001/jama.300.7.790-b

To the Editor: The use of Internet-based applications to support health management tasks has grown enormously.1 Studies investigating these applications have focused on prevalence of or reasons for use. We evaluated the ability of a sample of older adults to use the Medicare.gov Web site to make decisions concerning eligibility for services and prescription drug plans.

Two hundred eighteen people responded to newspaper advertisements and flyers in community and senior centers in the greater Miami area through telephone contact. Participants were required to be aged at least 50 years; be cognitively unimpaired (Mini-Mental State Examination2 score >26); have had computer experience (assessed via questionnaire3); be English speaking; and not have depressive symptoms or severe visual or hearing impairments. Following screening, 201 were eligible for participation, 64 of whom expressed lack of interest or did not report for the study. Participants were enrolled consecutively; 112 completed the protocol and were compensated $50 (Table 1). To characterize the sample, data were collected on age, education, and race/ethnicity (based on self-report using fixed categories4). Data were collected at the University of Miami between February 2006 and May 2007. The study was approved by the university's institutional review board, and all participants provided written consent.

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