Quantifying health literacy and eHealth literacy using existing instruments and browser-based software for tracking online health information seeking behavior

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Abstract

Citizens are increasingly using Internet-based resources to obtain and understand health information at the point of need. The ability to locate, evaluate and use online health information may be influenced by an individual's level of health literacy and eHealth literacy. Those with advanced eHealth literacy skills may utilise more efficient online search strategies and identify higher quality health information resources. This paper describes a study which investigated the associations between health literacy, eHealth literacy and actual online health information seeking behavior. Accurately quantifying online health information seeking behavior can be difficult, which is why we integrated software into the web browser to objectively monitor online interactions, search queries and Uniform Resource Locators. We recruited 54 participants to search for information related to common health topics. We received 307 answers, of which 75.2% were correct. However, despite having adequate health and eHealth literacies, participants relied on search engine results as a guide to locating information resources. Furthermore 96.3% of participants utilised unaccredited health information to answer some questions. The findings suggest that eHealth literate individuals may not always utilise effective online searching strategies. Pearson's product-moment correlation indicated that the relationship between the health and eHealth literacy scores was not statistically significant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-267
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume69
Issue number11
Early online date18 Dec 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Health literacy
  • eHealth literacy
  • digital health literacy
  • online health information seeking behavior
  • health 2.0
  • medicine 2.0
  • human-computer interaction
  • HCI

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