Sources of Health Information among Rural Women in Western Kentucky

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Abstract

Objective:

To identify sources of general and mental health information for rural women to inform the development of public health nursing interventions that consider preferences for obtaining information.

Design and Sample:

One thousand women (mean age = 57 years; 96.9% White) living in primarily nonmetropolitan areas of Western Kentucky participated via a random-digit-dial survey.

Measures:

Data were collected on demographics, sources of health information, depression, and stigma.

Results:

Most participants preferred anonymous versus interpersonal sources for both general (68.1%) and mental health (69.4%) information. All participants reported at least one source of general health information, but 20.8% indicated not seeking or not knowing where to seek mental health information. The Internet was the most preferred anonymous source. Few women cited health professionals as the primary information source for general (11.4%) or mental (9.9%) health. Public stigma was associated with preferring anonymous sources and not seeking information.

Conclusions:

Public health nurses should understand the high utilization of anonymous sources, particularly for mental health information, and focus efforts on helping individuals to navigate resources to ensure they obtain accurate information about symptoms, effective treatments, and obtaining care. Reducing stigma should remain a central focus of prevention and education in rural areas.

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