New Study Examines Adolescentsí Use of the Internet for Health Information
August 31, 2001
A study in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine examines adolescents' use of and attitudes toward accessing health information through the Internet.
Researchers surveyed 412 tenth grade students in an economically and ethnically diverse suburban town. The survey focused on three health areas: birth control and safer sex; diet, nutrition, and exercise; and dating and family violence. Students were asked what health topics they had ever tried to obtain information on from the Internet, what topics they obtained "the most information on from the Internet," and whether they thought the Internet was worthwhile, trustworthy, useful, and relevant.
Where Teens Get Information
Respondents were asked which of 15 possible sources they used for health information. They could name more than one source. Among responses:
Valuable Sources of Information
Respondents were asked to name the "most valuable" source of information on these topics.
Health Topics Accessed Through the Internet
Using a composite measure to assess respondents' perception of the worth, trustworthiness, usefulness, and relevence of general health information on the Internet, the authors found that adolescents value this medium with no significant differences related to sex or ethnicity.
The authors conclude that most adolescents not only use the Internet for health information but also consider this medium valuable. They suggest that the Internet can serve as a useful supplement to existing health care services and that more research on this topic is necessary to help educators determine how to present Internet health information.
For more information: D. Borzekowsi, Ed.D. and V. Rickert, Psy.D., "Adolescent Cybersurfing for Health Information," Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, vol. 155, July 2001.
This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.