Sources of health information related to preventive health behaviors in a national study

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Jun;38(6):620-627.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.03.001.


Background: Current literature suggests that certain sources of information are used in varying degrees among different socioeconomic and demographic groups; therefore, it is important to determine if specific classes of health information sources are more effective than others in promoting health behaviors.

Purpose: This study aims to determine if interpersonal versus mass media sources of health information are associated with meeting recommendations for health behaviors (nonsmoking, fruit/vegetable intake, and exercise) and cancer screening.

Methods: Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship of health information sources (mass media sources including print, TV, Internet; and interpersonal sources including friends and family, community organizations, and healthcare providers) with meeting recommendations for healthy behaviors and cancer screening in the 2005 and 2007 Health Information National Trends Surveys (HINTS). Analyses were conducted in 2009.

Results: In the 2005 HINTS, participants reporting use of print media and community organizations as sources of health information over the past year were mostly likely to meet recommendations for health behaviors. In the 2007 HINTS, utilization of healthcare providers for health information was associated with meeting recommendations for health behaviors, particularly cancer screening.

Conclusions: Use of print media and interpersonal sources of health information are most consistently associated with self-reported health behaviors. Additional research should explore the relationship of health information sources to clinical outcomes. Social network interventions to promote adoption of health behaviors should be further developed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Consumer Health Information / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Middle Aged
  • Preventive Health Services / methods*
  • Young Adult