An ecological model of health information acquisition on the Internet
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The present study aims 1) to determine online information acquisition practices in which college students acquire health-related information, health topics they are interested in and online tools they use to acquire health information, 2) to propose a theoretical framework based upon Williamson's ecological model (1998), Longo's health information model (2009; 2010), and previous empirical studies, 3) to examine contextual variables associated with college students' health information acquisition, and 4) to encourage discussion about improvements in communication of health information, health promotion and e-health literacy education of college population. The data collected through an online questionnaire was analyzed using various statistical analyses. The study found that found that students acquire health information in both intentional and opportunistic manner, with intentional being more common. There is a difference in topics they obtain in each of these two information manners. Students use search engines when intentionally searching for health information and opportunistically discover information while using social media. Both intentional and unintentional acquisition of health information was found to be significantly associated with gender, enrollment in healthrelated class, level of physical exercise, and the frequency of overall ODI. Health status was also significant in combination with satisfaction with social life, enrollment in health class and gender for intentional searching for health information. The theoretical framework proposed in the study is the first one so far to take a holistic approach to empirical investigation of undergraduate college students' health information acquisition behavior, by exploring both intentional and opportunistic acquisition practices and well as acquiring information for self and other people.
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