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Public Health Reports: Online Health Information Seeking Among US Adults: Measuring Progress Toward a Healthy People 2020 Objective

In a recent article in Public Health Reports, Drs. Lila J. Finney, Alexandra J. Greenberg-Worisek, and Summer V. Allen of Mayo Clinic and Drs. Kelly D. Blake, Richard P. Moser, and Bradford W. Hesse of National Cancer Institute assessed progress toward the health communication and health information technology objective of Healthy People 2020 (HP2020), which centered on increasing the proportion of health information seekers who easily access health information online. Data was gathered from 4 administrations of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS 2008-2017). Trends over time regarding experience with accessing health information was analyzed in addition to an examination of differences by several sociodemographic variables separately for those who used the internet (versus other information sources) during their most recent search for health information. Results indicated that among US adults who looked for health information and used the internet for their most recent search, the percentage who reported accessing health information without frustration was stable during the study period. The demographic characteristics of those who accessed information online without frustration being age 35 to 49, having a non-Hispanic black race/ethnicity, and earning an annual household income of less than $20 000. The percentage of adults who used an information source other than the internet and reported accessing health information online without frustration ranged from 31.3 percent in 2008 to 42.7 percent in 2017. Survey year 2017 and high school graduate education were also significantly and independently associated with accessing health information without frustration from sources other than the internet. The authors concluded that the percentage of online health information seekers reporting easily accessing health information did not meet the HP2020 objective. Continued efforts are needed to enable easy access to online health information among diverse populations.

Full article.

Public Health Reports (PHR) is the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service and has been published since 1878. The journal is peer-reviewed and publishes original research, reviews, and commentaries in the areas of public health practice and methodology, original research, public health law, and teaching at schools and programs of public health schools and teaching. It is published bimonthly, plus supplement issues, through an official agreement with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public HealthPHR’s mission is to facilitate the movement of science into public health practice and policy to positively affect the health and wellness of the American public.

Visit Public Health Reports for more information about the journal.

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