Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the importance of using information and communication technology (ICT) to address daily and healthcare needs. The barriers for older adults in the United States to learn a new technology to go online during the pandemic remain to be studied. Methods: Using data from the 2019–2020 National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), a nationally representative survey of older Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older in the United States, we used multivariable logistic regression models to identify sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with learning a new technology to go online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: Our sample represented 23,547,688 older adults nationally, of which the majority (60.2%) increased ICT use during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, most older adults (71.8%) did not report learning a new technology to go online. Those who did not learn a new technology to go online had less of an increase in ICT use than those who learned either with help or by themselves (50.7% vs. 78.4% or 89.2% respectively, p < 0.01). The odds of learning a new technology decreased with increasing age (aOR [95%CI] = 0.96 [0.94–0.98]), being male (aOR [95%CI] = 0.56 [0.45–0.72]), having lower than high school educational attainment (aOR [95%CI] = 0.38 [0.29–0.50]), decreasing income levels (aORs ranged from 0.28 to 0.54), and self-reported fair or poor general health (aOR [95%CI] = 0.65 [0.47–0.90]). Conclusion: The identified sociodemographic and clinical factors could inform targeted intervention strategies to improve ICT use among older adults during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3051-3057
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • barriers
  • information and communication technology (ICT)
  • learn a new technology
  • older adults


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