Seeking Health Info? Print Media Readers Make Healthier Choices

May 04, 2010 By Glenda Fauntleroy

Even with the widespread use of the Internet to get our daily dose of information, people who rely on the print media for their health information - along with those who turn to community organizations - tend to do better than Web-seekers at following a healthy lifestyle, new research finds.

“I think much is to be learned about health information-seeking behaviors and their relationship to the adoption of health behaviors in various demographic groups,” said Nicole Redmond, M.D., who led the team of researchers. “One of the challenges in this area is the rapidly evolving nature of information technology. Telecommunications such as text messaging and Internet access through and have created a very different communications landscape in a very short time frame.”

Redmond is in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The study, which appears in the June issue of the , used data from the 2005 and 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) and included responses from more than 10,000 participants.

The survey asked about which two categories of sources participants were more likely to use for health information. Did they turn to mass media, which included Internet, TV and print media, or interpersonal sources, such as family and friends, community organizations and health care providers?

Redmond and her colleagues looked for a link between the sources participants chose and whether they followed healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as not smoking, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and getting recommended . They found that print media, community organizations and health care providers showed the strongest associations.

“I was not entirely surprised by the role of community organizations, but I did expect that friends and family would have shown a significant association with some health behaviors as well,” said Redmond.

In the 2005 HINTS, those who used print media and community organizations for information had increased odds of meeting fruit and vegetable recommendations and being a nonsmoker than those who used other sources.

Likewise, in the 2007 survey, those who reported recent use of health care providers as a source for information had 32 percent higher odds of meeting recommended fruit and vegetable intake, and 36 percent higher odds of having had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy than those who didn’t use a health care provider.

“In general, the increased trend toward more people seeking health information online or through other public domain sources, such as print publications, is a good thing,” said Jennifer McClure, Ph.D., associate director for research at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle. “But there is a downside, too. Consumers need to be careful when seeking health care information through the public domain. They need to rely on credible sources and be sure to follow up with their before making significant changes to their lifestyle behaviors based on this information.”

Explore further: Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

More information: Redmond N, et al. Sources of health information related to preventive health behaviors in a national study. Am J Prev Med 38(6), 2010.

Related Stories

Trust me, I'm a journalist

Jan 22, 2009

Trust in the media promotes health. A study of people from 29 Asian countries, reported in the open access journal BMC Medicine, has shown that individuals with high levels of trust in the mass media tend to be healthier.

Recommended for you

Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

8 minutes ago

'Medic!', 'Hold fire!' and grid references are amongst the highest priorities for soldiers to be able to hear while on duty, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

New measures identified for newborn care in Uganda

58 minutes ago

In Uganda, child mortality rates are improving, but progress is slower for deaths occurring in the first four weeks of life, or the newborn period, and for stillbirths. But recent evidence from local researchers ...

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

3 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

4 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

Will the Affordable Care Act eliminate health disparities?

5 hours ago

Massachusetts' health reform may be a crystal ball for researchers and policymakers in forecasting the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act. Many see the ACA as the backbone of efforts toward closing the nation's health ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.