Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Elizabeth Capezuti

Committee Members

Juan Battle

Steven Baumann

Subject Categories

Communication Technology and New Media | Family, Life Course, and Society | Geriatric Nursing | Gerontology | Health Information Technology


community-dwelling older adults, digital divide, information and communication technologies (ICT), COVID-19, Theory of Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage


The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront the disparity between older and younger Americans in the utilization of information and communication technologies (ICT) when measures such as the COVID vaccine rollout were dependent on technology use. Technology adoption has implications for overall health and the continuation of disparities in technology adoption is associated with poor aging outcomes. The aim of this study was to understand factors associated with technology adoption by community-dwelling older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. A nationally representative sample of 2,954 community-dwelling older adults who completed the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) COVID-19 Questionnaire was utilized for the secondary analysis. Binary logistic regression models were employed to examine the relative impact of physical health, socioemotional, and demographic factors on whether community-dwelling older adults adopted a new online technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, to more explicitly evaluate gender differences, the analysis was conducted for the entire sample and then run separately for male and female respondents. Findings indicate that 26% of older adults did adopt a new technology during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Factors unique to the pandemic that were positively associated with technology adoption included having delayed planned medical care, attended online religious services, and attended online group activities. Significant gender differences in the likelihood of adopting technology were identified. For men, reporting feeling anxious or having a fall in the last year increased their odds of adoption, and for women attending online religious services increased their odds. Overall, the findings suggest that older adults in the US could benefit from technology outreach through community and religious groups. Also, the findings point to areas for future research concerning technology for community-dwelling older adults with a history of falling and those who reported delaying medical care. Differing factors for older men and women should continue to be considered in technology initiatives directed at older adults.