I attended a small conference in Chapel Hill, NC, last week that focused on the disparities between whites and African Americans in two areas: internet use and cancer.

African Americans are over-represented among cancer patients (according to the UNC researchers) and under-represented among internet users. The conference organizers are in the midst of studying ACOR.org, a collection of cancer information listservs, and had found in their initial study that 98% of the ACOR membership is white. They gathered a group of experts to not only explore questions about why this was so, but to find out how they could help to get the vital information found on ACOR (and other eHealth communities) to African Americans. I presented data about the current internet population, African Americans’ internet use, and the internet’s impact on health and health care.

One of the major take-aways from the event: If you forbid discussion of faith and religion, you will have trouble attracting African Americans to join the group.