Seeking health information and support online: does it differ as a function of engagement in risky health behaviors? Evidence from the health information national trends survey.
Sommaire de l'article
The Internet is an important tool to deliver health behavior interventions, yet little is known about Internet access and use of health-related information, or support, by the intended intervention recipients.
Our aim was to evaluate whether health-related Internet use differed as a function of common health-risk behaviors (excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, low fruit/vegetable intake, inactive/sedentary lifestyle, unprotected sun exposure, or obesity).
Sociodemographic, health behavior characteristics, and information on Internet access and use were assessed in the nationally representative US Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) 4. Data from 3911 participants collated in 2011/12 were included.
Of the 78.2% (95% CI 76.1-80.1) of participants who had ever accessed the Internet, approximately three-quarters (78.2%, 95% CI 75.4-80.7) had obtained health-related information online last year. About half had used the Internet as the first source of health-related information (47.8%, 95% CI 44.8-50.7) or to access behavioral support (56.9%, 95% CI 53.7-60.0) in the last year. Adjusting for sociodemographic determinants of going online (being younger, white, female, with at least college education) revealed few differences in Internet access and use between health-risk behaviors. Participants with inadequate sun protection were less likely to access the Internet (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.04-0.88) and those with low fruit/vegetable intake were less likely to have gone online to obtain health-related information last year (OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.45-0.80). Smokers in particular were likely to use the Internet to obtain behavioral support (OR 1.90, 95% CI 1.35-2.68).
Internet access and use to obtain health-related information and support is widespread and mostly independent of engagement in various health-risk behaviors. However, those with low fruit/vegetable intake or inadequate sun-protective behaviors may be more difficult to reach with Internet-based interventions. In addition, when developing online health promotions, relevant sociodemographic determinants of Internet use need to be targeted to maximize their impact.