5153.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - Board 7

Abstract #15610

Use of the Internet for Health Information and Health Opinion Leadership

Andrew Martin Maxfield, PhD, NIOSH/CDC, 1700 Seaton St., NW, Washington, DC 20009, 202-387-4738, amaxfield@ix.netcom.com, Purnima Chawla, PhD, Porter Novelli, and Thomas Eng, VMD, MPH, Institute for Interactive Health Communication.

Introduction: In 1999, 74 percent of those with access to the Internet searched for health information on the World Wide Web. The Web is an increasingly important source of health information and as a result, it is beginning to receive more attention. However, the focus thus far has been on individual users. This study asked whether health opinion leaders (HOLs), individuals who act as informal sources of health information in their communities, are making use of the Internet. Methods: This was a secondary analysis in which health-related and Internet-related measures from a large nationally representative survey (N > 2,600) were utilized to test for a relationship between health opinion leadership and use of the Internet for health information. Results: There is a significant association between "health opinion leadership" and use of the Internet for health information (beta=0.08, p < 0.001). Conclusions: A two-way, two-step flow from the Internet to HOLs to their communities raises two questions: 1) it may be that not every member of a community has to have access to the Internet in order to benefit from it, and 2) health information available on the Web is of varying quality and is unclear whether HOLs using the Internet are able to distinguish good information from bad.

Learning Objectives: Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to: 1. Define and describe health opinion leadership. 2. Assess whether the Internet is influencing health-related social processes. 3. Evaluate developing the Internet for health opinion leaders in order to reach under-served communities

Keywords: Communication Technology, Health Communications

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA