Sustaining information and communication technology use among Canadians with at least one activity limitation

Wendy Young, Jared Clarke, George Klima, Veeresh Gadag, Lan Gien, Irene Hardill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective - There are few studies that describe the characteristics of individuals who transition from information and communication technology usage to non-usage. The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics of non-sustaining Internet users who reported at least one activity limitation to the 2006 Canadian census. Non-sustainers are past users who have not used the Internet during the last 12 months. Methods - We analyzed data from the respondents of the 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS 2006) using descriptive analyses. The demographic and clinical profiles of those who had given up using the Internet (non-sustainers) were compared to that of people who had continued using the Internet (sustainers). Results - PALS 2006 surveyed adult Canadians with at least one activity limitation. While nearly half of all respondents reported having used the Internet in the past, 9.8% of those had not used it in the past 12 months and were designated “non-sustainers”. Individuals who were older (60+ years of age; 44.4%), were in the lowest income category (53.8%), and lived in rural communities (28.1%) were over-represented in the non-sustainer group compared to those who had sustained Internet usage. The most commonly reported limitations were pain (68.8%), mobility (67.5%), and agility (58.3%), although overall Internet usage and dropout rate were not markedly different between conditions. More than one-third of non-sustainers reported taking five or more prescribed medications on a daily basis, compared to less than one-quarter of sustainers. Conclusion - Compared to the general population, a high percentage of people with activity limitations report not having sustained their Internet usage. While the clinical profile of this group is not markedly different from those who continue to use the Internet, non-sustainers are more likely to be older, have less income and live in a rural community. We recommend that further research be conducted to identify the reasons for giving up the Internet and potential interventions to increase sustainability since a lack of digital engagement may lead to greater disadvantage for people with disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalThe International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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