This study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Resarch, aimed to investigate eHealth literacy across different types of users of online health communities (OHCs) based on a revised and extended eHealth literacy scale (eHEALS).
Electronic health (eHealth) literacy is an important skill that allows patients to navigate intelligibly through the vast, often misleading Web-based world. Although eHealth literacy has been investigated in general and specific demographic populations, it has not yet been analyzed on users of online health communities (OHCs).
Evidence shows that OHCs are important Web 2.0 applications for patients for managing their health, but at the same time, warnings have been expressed regarding the quality and relevance of shared information. No studies exist that investigate levels of eHealth literacy among users of OHCs and differences in eHealth literacy between different types of users.
The study concluded that those who are looking for advice and support in OHCs by making queries are well equipped with eHealth literacy skills to filter potential misinformation and detect bad advice. However, core relational users (who produce the most content in OHCs) have less-developed skills for cross-validating the information obtained and navigating successfully through the perils of the online world. Site managers should monitor their activity to avoid the spread of misinformation that might lead to unhealthy practices.
Petrič G, Atanasova S, Kamin T
Ill Literates or Illiterates? Investigating the eHealth Literacy of Users of Online Health Communities
J Med Internet Res 2017;19(10):e331