Objective:An integrative literature and evidence based informational review was conducted regarding the following factors: the ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation of these adolescents, the type of health information they are seeking, how these teens are using this information, the reliability of these health education sites and how the healthcare provider is incorporating this information into their practice.
Method:A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify English language evidence published between 2010-2016 via PubMed, CINAHL, Science Direct, PsychNet and Cochrane Library. A total of 3615 hits yielded 23 articles that met criteria in addition to 5 contextual articles; therefore 28 articles were included for the final review.
Results:Results indicate that there are a growing number of adolescents that are getting their health information from the Internet. However, many of them have expressed that they weren’t sure if the information was appropriate, accurate or useful. Adolescents were confused by some of the sexual health information they found and expressed interest in speaking with family, friends, teachers or a trusted health provider but were concerned about the possible breech in confidentiality. The community of LGBTQ and transgender teens were also identified as users of the Internet for health information especially, if they were still hesitant about talking about their sexual orientation with their healthcare providers.
Implications: The medical community needs to be aware of what types of online health and sexual health education are available for adolescents. Providers can use this knowledge to their advantage by reviewing these sites and recommending those they feel are appropriate. These sites could work to serve as an adjunct to the adolescent visit and open up avenues for conversation on general, and especially on sexual health topics, between the provider and the patient.
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