Doctor Google, Health Literacy, and Individual Behavior: A Study of University Employees’ Knowledge of Health Guidelines and Normative Practices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The success of public health campaigns to engender healthy behavior depends on effective communication of desired messages that inspire action utilizing health information that must be successfully understood. Research, however, illustrates that health guidelines are differentially interpreted, with health literacy and proclivities varying. Purpose: This article presents findings from a study examining major Australian health guidelines and behaviors regarding sun exposure, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and smoking. Methods: An online survey of rural and regional Australian university employees was designed and utilized to gather data about respondent health literacy relative to national guidelines. Results: Findings reveal disparate health literacy and behaviors among the 60 university employees surveyed, with antismoking being the most effectively communicated health message known and adopted. Discussion: Given that “Dr. Google” was respondents’ preferred source for health and health risk information, surpassing medical professionals, friends/family, and other media sources, the study raises concerns about the quality, availability, and suitability of Internet-based health information. Translation to Health Education Practice: Reconceptualizing health messages beyond “lose/gain” frameworks is suggested as a way to improve health knowledge to better assist individuals with negotiating conflicting content/quality of information available, differing health literacy, and differing sociocultural environments.A AJHE Self-Study quiz is online for this article via the SHAPE America Online Institute (SAOI) http://portal.shapeamerica.org/trn-Webinars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-189
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Education
Volume50
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 04 Apr 2019

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