Health Information-Seeking Behaviour in Adolescence: The Place of the Internet

Centre for Pharmacy, Health and Society, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.
Social Science & Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.89). 05/2005; 60(7):1467-78. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.08.010
Source: PubMed


The internet is one of a range of health information sources available to adolescents. It is recognised that young people have difficulties accessing traditional health services; in theory, the internet offers them confidential and convenient access to an unprecedented level of information about a diverse range of subjects. This could redress adolescents' state of relative health 'information poverty', compared to adults. This paper seeks to explore United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) adolescents' perceptions and experiences of using the internet to find information about health and medicines, in the context of the other health information sources that are available to them. The study involved a series of 26 single-gender focus groups with 157 English-speaking students aged 11-19 years from the UK and the US. Many students reported that the internet was their primary general information source. Information sources were defined during analysis in terms of previous experience of the source, saliency of the available information, and credibility of the source (defined in terms of expertise, trustworthiness and empathy). Most focus group participants had extensive personal experience with the internet and some information providers therein (notably search engines). Internet health information was regarded generally as salient. Its saliency was increased through active searching and personalisation. Perceived credibility of the internet varied because expertise and trustworthiness were sometimes difficult to determine, and empathy could be facilitated through online communities but the individual could control disclosure. The internet combines positive features of traditional lay and professional, personal and impersonal sources. Although it is unlikely to supplant the role of trusted peers and adults, the internet has found an important place among adolescents' repertory of health information sources.

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Available from: Jonathan D Klein, Dec 26, 2013
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    • "Overall, Internet usage has rapidly increased over the last few years, specifically among youngsters (Rideout, 2001; Gray et al., 2005). According to a recent Eurostat survey (Seybert and Reinecke, 2013), 72% of interviewees and 94% of those aged 16–24 accessed the web regularly on average at least once a week. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives Internet and social networking sites play a significant role in the marketing and distribution of recreational/prescription drugs without restrictions. We aimed here at reviewing data relating to the profile of the online drug customer and at describing drug vending websites. Methods The PubMed, Google Scholar, and Scopus databases were searched here in order to elicit data on the socio-demographic characteristics of the recreational marketplaces/online pharmacies' customers and the determinants relating to online drug purchasing activities. Results Typical online recreational drugs' customers seem to be Caucasian, men, in their 20s, highly educated, and using the web to impact as minimally as possible on their existing work/professional status. Conversely, people without any health insurance seemed to look at the web as a source of more affordable prescription medicines. Drug vending websites are typically presented here with a “no prescription required” approach, together with aggressive marketing strategies. Conclusions The online availability of recreational/prescriptions drugs remains a public health concern. A more precise understanding of online vending sites' customers may well facilitate the drafting and implementation of proper prevention campaigns aimed at counteracting the increasing levels of online drug acquisition and hence intake activities.
    Human Psychopharmacology Clinical and Experimental 07/2015; 30(4):302-318. DOI:10.1002/hup.2466 · 2.19 Impact Factor
    • "Aslanidou and Menexes (2008) reported that 91% of the Greek adolescents questioned used the web to search for information regarding their leisure activities that and 46.8% used it to help them with their school work. Gray, Klein, Noyce, Sesselberg, and Cantrill (2005) also described how young individuals in the United Kingdom and the United States search for health-related information on the Internet. Furthermore, 78% of the French youths consulted by Kredens and Fontar (2010) said the information they sought on the Internet was personal (e.g., related to their hobbies and special interests), and 74% said it was connected with their school work. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study is to understand how teenagers use Internet forums to search for information. The activities of asking for and providing information in a forum were explored, and a set of messages extracted from a French forum targeting adolescents was analyzed. Results show that the messages initiating the threads are often requests for information. Teenagers mainly ask for peers' opinions on personal matters and specific verifiable information. The discussions following these requests take the form of an exchange of advice (question/answer) or a coconstruction of the final answer between the participants (with assessments of participants' responses, requests for explanations, etc.). The results suggest that discussion forums present different advantages for adolescents' information-seeking activities. The first is that this social medium allows finding specialized information on topics specific to this age group. The second is that the collaborative aspect of information seeking in a forum allows these adolescents to overcome difficulties commonly associated with the search process (making a precise request, evaluating a result).
    Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 02/2015; DOI:10.1002/asi.23359 · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Regardless of the degree of validity, publicly available content on the Internet is an undeniable reality, which remains the major source of information for youths with sensitive or health- and drug-related issues of concern [5,25,26]. Internet discussion forums provide a global and anonymous environment in which sharing of drug-related information is a prominent feature. Other documented forum characteristics include social cohesion and support, as well as a focus on harm reduction [27,28]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Novel psychoactive substances (NPS) are continuously and increasingly appearing on the international drug market. Global Internet forums are a publicly available reality where users anonymously discuss and share information about NPS. The aim of this study was to explore and characterize the discussions about NPS on international Internet forums. Methods The most post-frequent NPS discussions were collected from three “leading edge” international Internet forums. A total of 13,082 posts from 60 threads of discussion were systematically examined and interpreted to reveal recurring topics and patterns. Each thread was coded with emerging topics and supporting quotations from the data set. Eventually, codes with coherent meaning were arranged into 51 broader categories of abstraction, which were combined into four overarching themes. Results Four themes emerged during the analysis: (1) uncovering the substance facts, (2) dosage and administration, (3) subjectively experienced effects, and (4) support and safety. The first theme dealt primarily with substance identification, pharmacology, and assessed not only purity but also legal status and acquisition. The second theme focused on administration techniques, dose recommendations, technical talk about equipment, and preferred settings for drug use. The third theme involved a multitude of self-reported experiences, in which many different aspects of intoxication were depicted in great detail. The users emphasized both positive and negative experiences. The last theme incorporated the efforts of the communities to prevent and minimize harm by sharing information about potential risks of the harmful effects or contraindications of a substance. Also, online support and guidance were given to intoxicated persons who experienced bad or fearful reactions. Conclusions The findings showed that the discussions were characterized by a social process in which users supported each other and exchanged an extensive and cumulative amount of knowledge about NPS and how to use them safely. Although this publicly available knowledge could entail an increase in drug use, the main characteristics of the discussions in general were a concern for safety and harm reduction, not for recruiting new users. Drug-related Internet forums could be used as a location for drug prevention, as well as a source of information for further research about NPS.
    Harm Reduction Journal 09/2014; 11(1):25. DOI:10.1186/1477-7517-11-25 · 1.26 Impact Factor
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