Online Program

Measuring Health Information Technology Use and eHealth Literacy Among African Americans

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Delores C.S. James, PhD, RDN, Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Michael Stellefson, PhD, Department of Health Education & Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Cedric Harville II, MPH, Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Background: Online health information may be of particular value to African Americans because of its potential to reduce communication disparities that perpetuate inequities related to health information access and use. 

Objective: This study assessed the use of information technology among African Americans and their perceived ability to seek, access, use, and understands online health information (i.e., eHealth literacy).   

Methods: Cross-sectional surveys were completed by 879 African Americans (62% females, 38% males; M=39.19 years ±14.81 years).

Results: Most participants owned laptops (68%) and smartphones (70%), and primarily accessed the Internet through their smartphone (72%).  Most went online daily (78%), spending an average of 3.94 hours±3.31 hours online/day.  The most sought out online health information topics included general health (53%) and nutrition (52%).  Forty-one percent of the sample also reported use of a health app in the past 30 days.  eHealth literacy was measured with the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS), a brief assessment including eight items measured on a 5-point Likert scale.  The internal consistency of eHEALS was high (α=.96), and item-scale correlations ranged from r = .64 to .86.   The unidimensionality of data collected with the eHEALS was supported by principal component analysis (eigenvalue = 6.26, 78% of variance explained). Overall, all factor loadings could be classified as excellent (>.71).  Mean eHEALS score was 30.53±7.74 out of 40 possible points.

Discussion/Conclusion: This sample of African Americans possessed functional levels of eHealth literacy, suggesting they can engage in telehealth activities, and can be targeted for eHealth and mHealth research and interventions.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Explain how African Americans access the Internet. Discuss the main topics of online health searchers. Understand how to assess eHealth literacy.

Keyword(s): African American, Communication Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Associate Professor
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.