Seeking Health Info? Print Media Readers Make Healthier Choices

May 4, 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.”

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

Recommended for you

Moderate coffee drinking 'more likely to benefit health than to harm it', say experts

November 22, 2017
Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it" for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ today.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.


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.