Examining the Health Literacy of Rural Latina Immigrant Mothers and Their Use of the Internet to Seek Health Information
This study examined the health literacy of 98 Latina immigrant mothers in a rural area of a Midwestern state, their use of the Internet to seek health information, and the relationship between mothers' use of the Internet to seek health information and children's and mothers' health status. Health literacy is the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions (Parker & Ratzan, 2010). Poor health literacy is related to poor health choices, riskier behaviors, worse health, higher mortality, more hospitalizations, and higher health costs (World Health Communication Associates Ltd, 2011). Latino immigrants are at high risk for poor health literacy in the United States due to low educational attainment, lack of knowledge of health topics, low English language fluency, and due to the culture and the specific characteristics of the U.S. health system. This includes the communication skills of health providers (Rudd, Kirsch, & Yamamoto, 2004). This study draws its sample from Rural Families Speak about Health (RFSH). Mothers were recruited using Respondent Driven Sampling (Heckathorn, 2002), a strategy for recruiting hard-to-reach populations and for whom sampling frames are not available. During in-home interviews, mothers were asked a series of questions pertaining to their use of the Internet, their ability to understand information shared by health professionals, the health status of themselves and their children, and the demographics of their households. Preliminary descriptive analysis of demographic data, correlations, cross tabs, and ANOVAs were conducted using the software SPSS v. 20. More than half (61.4%; n = 54) of the mothers reported they accessed the Internet most often at home. However, only a little more than one third reported that they used the Internet to find information about their health (35.7%; n = 35) or their children's health (37.8%; n = 37). Mothers' use of the Internet to find information regarding health was not related to children's or mothers' health status. www.cambio.missouri.edu/Library/ Keywords: health literacy, Latino health, Latino mothers, Internet usage
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