A cross-section survey of health information-seeking practices among young adults on a South African university campus

Van Niekerk, Estelle (2012-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Health information-seeking is a complex and dynamic construct. This study attempted to quantify and explain the use of interpersonal communication, media and related technologies as health information sources among first year university students on the campus of Stellenbosch University (SU), using a cross-sectional survey design. The questionnaire and web-based survey intended to measure and document important research constructs at a single point in time. Data from this survey provide exploratory information on patterns of health information-seeking practices and preferences encountered among the research target group. Measures of the reasons for health information-seeking on specific topics; health information sources/channels and frequency of source/channel use; information source credibility and quality as well as the outcomes of the health information-seeking process were used as secondary research aims in this study. Health communication and health management needs of the research population were also important research variables to establish. Results from this research indicate that the health status of the study cohort was good. The mean of the BMI kg/m² for the current study cohort lies at the higher end of the BMI kg/m² continuum for this age group, which indicates that the lifestyle of the study cohort is at risk. The use of health information sources among the research cohort was diverse. This research confirms that interpersonal communication is an important information medium through which young adults receive health information. The concept of an ecological context to health communication and its effects are therefore supported by these results. Use of media sources and related technology was common and diverse among the study cohort, mirroring patterns of media use for other young adult groups. Results further support the theory of effect-studies in communication (the media), where the provision of certain types of information through the media, indicate to have an impact on people’s thinking and behaviour. A behaviour change as result of the health information-seeking process was reported among the research cohort. Health communication literature refers to small numbers of studies conducted on health information-seeking among young adults (student populations). The current research has attempted to add to the body of knowledge on health information-seeking and its outcomes among a student population group in a South African university setting.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die soektog na gesondheidsinligting is 'n dinamiese en komplekse proses. Hierdie navorsing het gepoog om die gebruik van interpersoonlike kommunikasie, media en verwante tegnologieë as inligtingsbronne oor gesondheid onder eerstejaar-studente op die kampus van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch (US) te kwantifiseer en te verklaar. 'n Dwarsdeursnitopname is as studieontwerp gebruik. Die web-gebaseerde vraelys het gepoog om belangrike navorsingskonstrukte tydens 'n enkele tydgleuf te probeer meet. Data van hierdie opname verskaf verkennende inligting oor die patrone van die soeke na gesondheidsinligting en gesondheidsinligtingvoorkeure van studente. Redes vir die soek na gesondheidsinligting; mediums/metodes waardeur inligting verkry word; frekwensie van soektogte; geloofwaardigheid van mediums en die kwaliteit daarvan; onderwerpe waarna gesoek word en die uitkomste van hierdie gesondheidsinligtingsoektog, is as sekondêre navorsingsuitkomste van belang geag. Gesondheidskommunikasiebehoeftes onder die navorsingsteikengroep was belangrik om vas te stel. Resultate van die navorsing dui aan dat die gesondheidstatus van die navorsingsgroep goed was. Die gemiddelde BMI kg/m² vir die groep was egter aan die bokant van die BMI kg/m² kontinuum vir die ouderdomsgroep en dui op moontlike leefstylrisiko’s vir die groep. Die gebruik van gesondheidsinligtingsbronne was baie divers. Hierdie navorsing ondersteun die feit dat interpersoonlike kommunikasie, as gesondheidsinligtingsbron, nog 'n belangrike rol speel onder jong volwassenes. Die konsep van 'n ekologiese konteks vir gesondheidskommunikasie en die uitwerking daarvan, word ondersteun deur die huidige navorsingsresultate. Die gebruik van media en verwante tegnologieë, as inligtingsbronne vir gesondheid, is as baie divers gerapporteer. Dit bevestig patrone van mediagebruik wat onder ander jong volwassenes gevind is. Resultate van hierdie navorsing ondersteun ook die teorie van effek-studies in kommunikasie (die media), waar die verskaffing van inligting deur die media 'n impak op mense se denke en gedrag aandui. 'n Gedragsverandering is wel deur die navorsingsgroep aangedui as resultaat van die soeke na gesondheidsinligting. Gesondheidskommunikasieliteratuur verwys na enkele studies wat oor gesondheidsinligtingsoektogte onder jong volwassenes (studente-populasies) gedoen is. Die huidige navorsing het gepoog om 'n bydrae te maak tot hierdie kennis en die uitkomste daarvan onder studente op 'n Suid-Afrikaanse universiteitskampus.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20022
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