BACKGROUND: The Internet is one of the main resources of health information especially for young adults, but website content is not always trustworthy or validated. Little is known about this specific population and the importance of online health searches for use and impact. It is fundamental to assess behaviors and attitudes of young people looking for online health-related information and their level of trust in such information. OBJECTIVE: The objective is to describe the characteristics of Internet users aged 15-30 years who use the Web as a health information resource and their trust in it, and to define the context and the effect of such use on French young adults" behavior in relation to their medical consultations. METHODS: We used the French Health Barometer 2010, a nationally representative survey of 27,653 individuals that investigates population health behaviors and concerns. Multivariate logistic regressions were performed using a subsample of 1052 young adults aged 15-30 years to estimate associations between demographics, socioeconomic, and health status and (1) the use of the Internet to search for health information, and (2) its impact on health behaviors and the physician-patient relationship. RESULTS: In 2010, 48.5% (474/977) of Web users aged 15-30 years used the Internet for health purposes. Those who did not use the Internet for health purposes reported being informed enough by other sources (75.0%, 377/503), stated they preferred seeing a doctor (74.1%, 373/503) or did not trust the information on the Internet (67.2%, 338/503). However, approximately 80% (371/474) of young online health seekers considered the information found online reliable. Women (P<.001) and people with higher sociocultural positions (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-0.9 and OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.7 for employees and manual workers, respectively, vs individuals with executive or manager positions) were more likely to use the Internet for health purposes. For a subsample of women only, online health seeking was more likely among those having a child (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1-2.7) and experiencing psychological distress (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.0-4.0). Finally, for online health seekers aged 15-30 years, one-third (33.3%, 157/474) reported they changed their health behaviors (eg, frequency of medical consultations, way of taking care of one's own health) because of their online searches. Different factors were associated with different outcomes of change, but psychological distress, poor quality of life, and low income were the most common. CONCLUSIONS: The Internet is a useful tool to spread health information and prevention campaigns, especially to target young adults. Young adults trust online information and consider the Internet as a valid source of health advice. Health agencies should ensure the improvement of online health information quality and the creation of health-related websites and programs dedicated to young adults.[résumé auteur]
Auteur : Beck F., Richard J.B., Nguyen-thanh V., Montagni I., Parizot I., Renahy E.
Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2014, vol. 16, n°. 5, p. e128