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Maitz, E; Maitz, K; Sendlhofer, G; Wolfsberger, C; Mautner, S; Kamolz, LP; Gasteiger-Klicpera, B.
Internet-Based Health Information-Seeking Behavior of Students Aged 12 to 14 Years: Mixed Methods Study.
J Med Internet Res. 2020; 22(5): e16281-e16281. Doi: 10.2196/16281 [OPEN ACCESS]
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Führende Autor*innen der Med Uni Graz
Maitz Emanuel
Co-Autor*innen der Med Uni Graz
Kamolz Lars-Peter
Mautner Selma
Sendlhofer Gerald
Wolfsberger Christina H.

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Many children and adolescents are surrounded by smartphones, tablets, and computers and know how to search the internet for almost any information. However, very few of them know how to select proper information from reliable sources. This can become a problem when health issues are concerned, where it is vital to identify incorrect or misleading information. The competence to critically evaluate digital information on health issues is of increasing importance for adolescents. The aim of this study was to assess how children and adolescents rate their internet-based health literacy and how their actual literacy differs from their ratings. In addition, there was a question on how their search performance is related to their self-efficacy. To evaluate these questions, a criteria-based analysis of the quality of the websites they visited was performed. Finally, the possibility to increase their internet-based health literacy in a 3-day workshop was explored. A workshop with a focus on health literacy was attended by 14 children and adolescents in an Austrian secondary school. After prior assessments (Culture Fair Intelligence Test, revised German version; Reading Speed and Reading Comprehension Test for Grades 6 to 12, German; electronic health literacy scale [eHEALS]; and General Self-Efficacy Scale, Reversed Version, German), the students were asked to perform an internet-based search on a health-related issue. Browser histories and screenshots of all internet searches were gathered, clustered, and analyzed. After the workshop, the health literacy of the students was assessed again by using the eHEALS. The 14 students opened a total of 85 homepages, but only eight of these homepages were rated as good or fair by two experts (independent rating) based on specific criteria. The analysis showed that the students judged their own internet-based health literacy much higher than the actual value, and students who had rated themselves better did not visit websites of high quality. Internet-based health literacy correlated significantly with the self-efficacy of the students (rs=0.794, P=.002). Our study showed that it is possible to draw the attention of students to critical aspects of internet search and to slightly improve their search competence in a workshop. Targeted improvement of health literacy is urgently required, and students need special instruction for this purpose. Further investigations in this area with larger sets of data, which could be feasible with the help of a computer program, are urgently needed. ©Emanuel Maitz, Katharina Maitz, Gerald Sendlhofer, Christina Wolfsberger, Selma Mautner, Lars-Peter Kamolz, Barbara Gasteiger-Klicpera. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 26.05.2020.

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
internet-based health information-seeking behavior
eHealth literacy
children and adolescents
mixed methods study
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