Background: Health information-seeking behavior (HISB) of college students is of importance due to health information inconsistencies at a time when personal independence and concurrent personal health decision making may be increased. Currently, there is a dearth of research about the HISB of college students, especially from diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify and describe the sources college students use when engaging in HISB; and to explore associations between HISB and demographic factors.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted with undergraduate students at a diverse, public institution in New York City. The sample was drawn from an institutional social science research pool and asked to complete a survey on HISB. A total of 226 respondents completed the survey.
Results: The believed accuracy of the information found online was positively correlated with related behaviors and beliefs. The number of followers on Instagram proved to be an important mediator of HISB of college students. The number of followers a health information provider has was fittingly positively correlated with the belief that social media is a helpful resource for health information r(233)=0.18, P=0.01. Students from families with two or more generations living in the United States accessed health professionals more frequently than students from one or less generation (χ2=8.107(2), P=0.017).
Conclusion: Targeted educational programs designed to increase health information seeking skills, including discernment of information quality should be a priority for college students.