Raimo Niemelä presented a paper, coauthored with colleagues, Designing a self-assessment tool for screening everyday health information literacy, today at i3 conference at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen http://www.i3conference2011.org.uk/
A simple screening tool was needed to identify people who needed health information literacy counselling, as part of a wider health project involving hundreds of people.
They started with the definition of Health Information Literacy by the Medical Library Association, http://www.mlanet.org/resources/healthlit/ and from that developed the idea of Everyday health information literacy puts HIL in everyday life contexts, a "concept for studying layperson's general and non-professional abilities related to health information."
They developed a 10-item questionnaire, with questions like "It is difficult to get health information from printed sources", "Terms and sentences of health information are difficult to understand", "I apply health related information to my own life or those close to me" plus additional question asking what type of health related issues people had searched for and asking how people evaluated information.
They used this with a sample of 217 students 17-20 years, and found a normal distribution on the EHIL scores. Findings included that: there were gender differences, with females more interested in health information than males and using information from various sources. First year students were more likely to disagree with the statement that it was difficult to know who do believe in health issues than older students. Some broader constructs, such as "confidence" could be identified through analysis of responses. In terms of how the participants evaluated health information, authority of the writer or publisher was top, followed by sources from scientific research. Things like blogs and chat rated very low.
The interesting question for EHIL follow up was: what would be the key indicators of a need for EHIL counselling? From this initial pilot study, they decided they could reduce the questionnaire to key statements (likert scale, strongly disagree to strongly agree)
- I know where to seek health information
- It is easy to assess the reliabilityof health information on the internet
- Terms and sentences of health information are difficult to understand
- It is difficult to know who to believe in health issues
In discussion afterwards, the point was made (by researchers working in the health informationbehaviour field) that people may have a lot of information, but they may have a problem with (or reluctance to) contextextualising the information to their own situation and health. Also there was discussion around the gender differences (other studies have shown that females are higher users ofhealth information).
I'll be catching up with blog posts from yesterday, this afternoon, by the way.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Scottish dancing last night