Ethnicity & Health

Philip M. Massey, Brent A. Langellier, Tetine Sentell, and Jennifer Manganello*

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ABSTRACT
Objective: To examine differences in health information seeking between U.S.-born and foreign-born populations in the U.S.

Design: Data from 2008 to 2014 from the Health Information National Trends Survey were used in this study (n = 15,249). Bivariate analyses, logistic regression, and predicted probabilities were used to examine health information seeking and sources of health information.

Results: Findings demonstrate that 59.3% of the Hispanic foreign-born population reported looking for health information, fewer than other racial/ethnic groups in the sample. Compared with non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black (OR = 0.62) and Hispanic foreign-born individuals (OR = 0.31) were the least likely to use the internet as a first source for health information. Adjustment for language preference explains much of the disparity in health information seeking between the Hispanic foreign-born population and Whites; controlling for nativity, respondents who prefer Spanish have 0.25 the odds of using the internet as a first source of health information compared to those who prefer English.

Conclusion: Foreign-born nativity and language preference are significant determinants of health information seeking. Further research is needed to better understand how information seeking patterns can influence health care use, and ultimately health outcomes. To best serve diverse racial and ethnic minority populations, health care systems, health care providers, and public health professionals must provide culturally competent health information resources to strengthen access and use by vulnerable populations, and to ensure that all populations are able to benefit from evolving health information sources in the digital age.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff