The Internet is transforming the way in which consumers seek for health information to approach their health care and needs. The purpose of this study was to investigate health information seeking behaviour on the Internet among graduate students in KNUST. Grounded in the tradition of human health and information seeking literature, the study was underpinned by Johnson‟s Comprehensive Model of Information Seeking (CMIS) theory.
The study adopted a quantitative method using a cross-sectional survey approach. The study involved a sample of 256 and restricted to graduate students studying courses related to health in the Arts and Social Sciences and Sciences (Sociology, Medicine, Allied Heath and Pharmacy). Data was analysed using SPSS version 17.0 and presented by means of both simple descriptive and inferential statistics with a response rate of
77.3 %. Results showed that most of the respondents used search engines, non- advertising Internet sources, and social media networks to source for health information on the Internet. The respondents preferred the Internet because it was timely, fast and provided information from different sources simultaneously. They also indicated that it provided lots of very useful information on preventive medicine and also ensures the confidentiality and anonymity of health information seekers. The type(s) of health information mostly sought for were general information on healthy lifestyle, specific information about a specific disease or treatment, information on the side effects of medications, information about new development in the medical field among others. Majority (90.9 %) of the respondents trusted the health information on the Internet.
Surprisingly, majority (56.6 %) did not verify the information obtained online with medical practitioners although they had concerns with online health information. As for the demographic characteristics (gender and age) of the respondents, only age was found to be influenced by (be an antecedent of) (p
Background to the Study
Health Information Seeking Behaviour (HISB) is largely regarded as the means by which individuals acquire information about health (illness, health promotion and risks to health) (Lambert & Loiselle, 2007) from different sources or resources such as print, health specialist, interpersonal, Internet, radio et cetera (Gavgani, Qeisari, & Jafarabadi, 2013; Wilson, 2000).
The Internet in particular is a major tool used by all categories of people worldwide for seeking information for both professional and private reasons (Siliquini et al., 2011; Kummervold et al., 2008; Trotter & Morgan, 2008; Renahy, Parizot, & Chauvin, 2007). The Internet usage or penetration worldwide as at 30th June 2014 was 42.3 %, with Africa recording 26.5 %. Ghana which is rapidly developing as an information technology hub in Africa had 20.1%, an increase of about 6% over 2012 statistics (www.internetworldstats.com; Ansah-koi, 2013; Borzekowski, Fobil, & Asante, 2006). According to Horrigan and Rainie (2002), Internet users are more likely than non-users to have high prospects of accessing any available information online.
The Internet has emerged as a new and innovative channel for obtaining health information (Chang & Im, 2014) and is becoming a challenging tool for its use for health purposes (Siliquini et al., 2011). There are thousands of health-related websites, and health topics are claimed to be the sixth largest content area on the Internet (Ayers & Kronenfeld, 2007; Alkhalaf, 2013). The Internet phenomenon has enabled
many individuals and groups though not everybody to pursue additional sources of health information online for themselves other than consulting the physician (Tu & Hargraves, 2003; Rice, 2006; İnceoğlu, Özçetin, Gökmen Tol, & Alkurt, 2014).
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