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Public Policy and Administration


Lori Demeter


Lack of trust in technology, personal preference, and perceived inability to use online services are possible reasons for lagged adaptation to electronic government (e-government) among older adults in the United States. Although e-government policies promote, or require, that many public services be provided electronically, it is unclear whether older adults are able, or willing, to access such services. The purpose of this qualitative, exploratory study was to gain insight from older adults (e.g., "individuals who are 65 years or older") about their ability and willingness to access e-government services in a mid-Atlantic County. The framework for this research was Roger's diffusion of innovation theory. Data were collected via interviews with 21 older adults and then inductively coded and subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. Most participants reported using e-government services in some capacity, while the remaining 10% did not because of vision issues, the overabundance of information, personal dislike of technology, and/or the belief that e-government was not conducive for self-management. However, 28% of the participants who had used e-government preferred face-to-face interactions with people instead of online servicing while also recognizing the benefits of e-government services in terms of convenience. Moreover, participants suggested that e-government usage might improve if explanations of online terminology, examples of services, and instruction on primary online services, such as web services, are offered. The study may contribute to positive social change by providing information that federal, state, and local government officials can use to develop policies for e-government accessibility, types of services, and alternative options for the aging population.

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