Examining Associations between Health Information Seeking Behavior and Adult Education Status in the U.S.: An Analysis of the 2012 PIAAC Data

PLoS One. 2016 Feb 16;11(2):e0148751. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148751. eCollection 2016.


This paper presents data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies with a focus on the interrelationships among health information seeking behavior (HISB), and health status or use of preventive health measures for U.S. adults both with and without a high school diploma. Key results of ordinal and binary logistic regression analyses indicated that, after controlling for demographic factors, (1) adults with a high school diploma use more text-based health information sources while adults without a high school diploma use more oral sources, (2) using the Internet as a source of health information is more strongly related to reporting excellent/very good health status than having a high school diploma, (3) those without a high school diploma who use the Internet report the largest increase in health status over any other health information source, and (4) for those with learning disability or vision problem, a high facility in reading English is an important predictor of whether the Internet is used as a health information source. The Internet appears to play a key role in both enhancing health status and enabling use of preventive measures for those with and without a high school diploma; although, individuals without a high school diploma who use the Internet for health information derive substantial benefit in health status.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.