Adolescent health literacy: The importance of credible sources for online health information

Suad F. Ghaddar, Melissa A. Valerio, Carolyn M. Garcia, Lucy Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Little research has examined adolescent health literacy and its relationship with online health information sources. The purpose of this study is to explore health literacy among a predominantly Hispanic adolescent population and to investigate whether exposure to a credible source of online health information, MedlinePlus ®, is associated with higher levels of health literacy. METHODS: An online survey was administered to a cross-sectional random sample of high school students in South Texas. Self-reported sociodemographic characteristics and data on health-information-seeking behavior and exposure to MedlinePlus ® were collected. Health literacy was assessed by eHEALS and the Newest Vital Sign (NVS). Linear and binary logistic regressions were completed. RESULTS: Of the 261 students who completed the survey, 56% had heard of MedlinePlus ®, 52% had adequate levels of health literacy as measured by NVS, and the mean eHEALS score was 30.6 (possible range 8-40). Health literacy was positively associated with self-efficacy and seeking health information online. Exposure to MedlinePlus ® was associated with higher eHealth literacy scores (p < .001) and increased the likelihood of having adequate health literacy (odds ratio: 2.1; 95% CI: 1.1, 4.1). CONCLUSION: Exposure to a credible source of online health information is associated with higher levels of health literacy. The incorporation of a credible online health information resource into school health education curricula is a promising approach for promoting health literacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-36
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of School Health
Volume82
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Keywords

  • Child and adolescent health
  • Health communication
  • Health informatics
  • Health literacy
  • MedlinePlus

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