Health Information Seeking Behaviors Among African Americans Who Have and Do Not Have Intenet Access

Wednesday, 24 July 2013: 1:50 PM

Barbara Powe, PhD, RN, FAAN1
Dexter Cooper, MPH1
Charlene Caburnay, PhD, MPH2
Glen Cameron, PhD3
(1)American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA
(2)George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
(3)Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

Learning Objective 1: Describe key strategies for targeting cancer messages to African Americans who have and do not have access to the Internet.

Learning Objective 2: Compare and contrast cancer prevention messages using using multiple information channels to enhance cancer prevention among at-risk populations.

Purpose: African Americans trail the national average in broadband access to the Internet.  African Americans have higher cancer incidence and mortality rates than other groups.  The lack of access to the scope of information available via the Internet may enhance these disparities.  This descriptive study compares information seeking behaviors among Black Newspaper Readers (BNR) who have (n=455) or do not have (n=264) access to the Internet. 

 Methods: A sampling frame was created that met two criteria: (1) presence of a Black weekly newspaper with a circulation ³ 5000; and (2) areas having an African-American population ³ 50,000.  From this frame, three geographic regions that corresponded to divisions of the American Cancer Society (ACS) were selected to arrive at 36 randomly selected communities.  , Random digit dial techniques were used to identify participants and complete surveys. Data were collected using an investigator initiated survey that accessed communication strategies, knowledge, beliefs, and screening practices. 

 Results: Black newspaper readers (BNR) without Internet access were older, had lower education, lower incomes, were more likely to be unemployed or retired, and watched more television than those with Internet access.  Further, BNRs without the Internet turned to print materials, friends and family, and providers for cancer information. 

 Conclusion: What was once a digital divide shaped by access to computers has now become a digital divide composed of an economic divide, a usability divide, and an empowerment divide.  Caution must be exercised when directing the public to Internet-based resources without knowing whether these are viable options.  It may be feasible to target messaging within commonly used social media outlets that could then direct the user to main websites for more detailed information.  It is also important to ensure access to the same quality of information via non-technology based media that individuals identify as pertinent and relevant.