How do adolescents access health information? And do they ask their physicians?

  • Ettel G
  • Nathanson I
  • Ettel D
 et al. 
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OBJECTIVE To improve understanding about how high school students use electronic tools to obtain health information and how this information affects their behavior. DESIGN/METHODS Using a cross-sectional design, we administered an anonymous survey to high school students in grades 9 through 12 at a single private Catholic high school, inquiring about their use of electronic tools to obtain health information, topics of interest, sources used to obtain information, and modifications in their behavior based on that information. Descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis of variance were used to compare trends across grade levels. RESULTS Of 705 students enrolled, 24.7% were either absent or chose not to participate in the survey. Of the remaining 531 students, 497 completed the surveys, for a response rate of 70.5% (497 of 705) and a participation rate of 93.6% (497 of 531). All students were comfortable using the Internet, and >90% used it at home and in school. Access to broadband applications averaged 95% at home and 80% at school. A significant proportion (0.66; p < 0.0001) of students reported that they trusted the information found online, and 22% (not significant) modified their behavior on the basis of the information they found. Forty-two percent searched for general health information, and 43% investigated specific medical conditions or disease states. Topics related to skin were researched significantly more than nutrition, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases. Although a significant number of students (p < 0.05) reported conducting e-mail conversations related to health topics with their teachers,

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Education: methods
  • Health Education: statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Southeastern United States

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  • George Ettel

  • Ian Nathanson

  • Donna Ettel

  • Christine Wilson

  • Paul Meola

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