An observational study of how young people search for online sexual health information

J Am Coll Health. 2009 Sep-Oct;58(2):101-11. doi: 10.1080/07448480903221236.


Little is known about the quality of online sexual health information, how young people access the Internet to answer their sexual health questions, or an individual's ability to sort through myriad sources for accurate information.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine how college students search for online sexual health information and whether they retrieve accurate answers to sexual health questions.

Participants: In fall 2007, the authors recruited 34 first-year, first-semester undergraduates to participate in an observational research study, using Camtasia Studio.

Results: Most students found accurate answers to the 12 sexual health questions posed. Finding local information and resources online proved more difficult than finding answers to general sexual health questions.

Conclusions: The Internet has become the leading source for sexual health information. Based on their findings, the authors argue that young people must be educated about how Web search engine results are prioritized/displayed and trained to evaluate Web sites for reliable information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics
  • Observation / methods
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult