Social Media: The Key to Health Information Access for 18- to 30-Year-Old College Students

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This work examines where 18- to 30-year-old college students seek health information on the Internet and how they determine site and message credibility. Using a qualitative methodology, five focus groups were conducted with 18- to 30-year-old college students, and transcripts were analyzed with MaxQDA text analysis software. The study revealed that 18- to 30-year-old college students have Internet health information source preferences, reasons for seeking health information on the Internet, and message design factors that improve their perception of site and message credibility. We conclude that the Internet and social media show great promise as effective health communication channels for 18- to 30-year-old college students and confirm that preferred Internet/social media sites can be utilized by health educators to present important risk management/disease prevention information to 18- to 30-year-old college students. In addition, message design factors can lend credibility to both sites and the health information delivered there.

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