Online Program

Google It!: Urban community college student use of the internet to obtain self-care and personal health information

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lesley Rennis, EdD, MPH, Health Education Department, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, NY
Gloria McNamara, PhD, RD, Health Education Department, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, NY
Erica Seidel, PsyD, Student Affairs, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York
Yuliya Snyderman, PhD, Health Education Department, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York
Young adults aged 18 to 29 have the highest percentage of any age group who search online for health information. For many college students advantages of using the Internet to obtain personal health information include affordability, convenience and anonymity. These advantages are particularly appealing to ethnic minorities, who may be marginalized by traditional health care systems and who increasingly utilize mobile systems to access the World Wide Web. This study collected focus group data (N=14) from urban community college students on their use of the Internet to obtain health related information. Additional data were collected from faculty and student services staff regarding the availability of student focused online health resources. Findings indicate students are active users of the Internet and that students search the web for a variety of personal health needs. In fact, the Internet was the students' most often consulted health information source. Students reported searching the Internet to identify self-care strategies, alternative therapies and information related to nutrition and fitness. Students felt the Internet empowered their health care decision making. However, students also reported skepticism related to the validity of health related information and failed to identify reliable strategies for evaluating Internet health information. Based on these findings, the authors argue that although the Internet provides increased access to health information, college students should be trained to evaluate Web sites for their reliability and colleges should take an active role in providing student centered health information via the web. Digital media offers new opportunities to address health disparities and increase health literacy among urban community college students.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
List health related information searched for by minority college students. Discuss the use the Internet by minority students to obtain self-care and personal health information. Discuss the implications and limitations of digital media as a health information tool for minority college students. Evaluate the importance of the Internet as a health information resource for urban community college students.

Keyword(s): Internet, Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As an associate professor of health education my research efforts focus on the use of technology as a health education tool for urban community college students. Additionally, I have researched and evaluated numerous community health programs to prevent chronic disease and address health disparities. My most recent publication examines the role of health education textbooks in addressing diabetes.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.