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.

Download full-text


Available from: Jonathan D Klein, Dec 26, 2013
    • "This age group represents the majority of social networking sites users (Pew Research Center, 2014). Moreover, it represents the majority of those seeking health information online (Gray, Klein, Noyce, Sesselberg, & Cantrill, 2005; Saad, Mokhtar, Majid, & bin Nazeri, 2013). Data were collected via an online questionnaire, which, due to cost efficiency and convenience of data processing, was distributed through online social networks. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Online social networks provide a novel opportunity to improve public health through effective health information dissemination. Developing a dissemination strategy, however, requires an understanding of individuals' beliefs and attitudes about using both the technology and information. Previous research has focused primarily on either technology adoption or information adoption behaviors. This study aims to bridge the gap by developing a unified model of acceptance and use of information technology for predicting intention to use health information through online social networks. Empirical results show that Performance Expectancy, Facilitating Conditions, Perceived Emotional Value, Trust, Relevance, Accuracy, Understandability, and Source Credibility influence the adoption behavior. Also, individuals tend to accept health information regardless of their attitudes toward the communication channel. To obtain a copy of the entire article, click on the link below. To read a PDF sample of this article, click on the link below.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · International Journal of E-Health and Medical Communications
  • Source
    • "Teens report that the Internet is limited as a health information source -not all websites are trustworthy, and online information might not be useful for someone suffering from a serious illness. But online health information provides the benefits of instant access to information and multiple perspectives from a number of different sources (Gray et al. 2005). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This research project investigated teens' perspectives on the quality and helpfulness of health information about eating disorders found on Yahoo! Answers, a Social Q&A site. A mixed methods approach was applied, using survey methods and semi-structured group interviews to gather data for the project. Eighteen teens completed a web-based questionnaire using sample question/answer sets about eating disorders from Yahoo! Answers. The teen participants were asked to choose one answer as " best " and then rank its credibility, accuracy, reliability, and helpfulness. Open-ended questions allowed teens to explain the rationale for their choice of " best " answer and to discuss why the chosen answer might (or might not) be helpful for teens. Following the questionnaire, six teens participated in a focus group interview using a semi-structured format that asked open-ended " why " questions in order to draw forth comments on criteria for evaluating the quality and and helpfulness of health information in Yahoo! Answers, as well as to reveal aspects of critical thinking. Findings suggest that, 1) teens make a distinction between health information in Social Q&A that is credible versus that which is helpful, 2) they value health information that isn't from a credible source if it addresses other needs, and, 3) when making judgments about health information on the Web, they apply an array of heuristics related to information quality, opinion, communication style, emotional support and encouragement, guidance, personal experience, and professional expertise.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Nov 2015
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Human Psychopharmacology Clinical and Experimental
Show more