Mobile and Online Health Information: Exploring Digital Media Use among Austrian Parents

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 20;17(17):6053. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176053.


In today's digitalized world, most parents are Internet-savvy and use online sources for child health information, mainly due to the 24/7 availability of advice. However, parents are often not specifically trained to identify reliable, evidence-based sources of information. In this cross-sectional online survey among a purposive, non-probabilistic sample of Austrian parents (n = 90, 81.1% females), we assessed aspects of health app use and family policy benefits-related and scenario-based Internet seeking behavior. We found that the surveyed parents showed a high health app use. The participants indicated that they prefer online information seeking to any other option in a scenario describing that their child would be sick at after-work hours, with social media channels being the least preferred source of online information. Mothers and younger parents were more likely to retrieve online information on family policy benefits. With the smartphone in everybody's pocket, parents seemed to rely on mobile and online content when searching for child health information. Pediatricians are best suited to decide what treatment fits the child or their current medical condition, but nowadays they face increasing numbers of pre-informed parents seeking health information online. Provision of targeted parental education and guidance through the online information jungle could effectively empower parents and smooth personal and digital contacts in the delicate doctor-parent-child triangle.

Keywords: health information technology; health seeking behavior; influencing factors; online resources; pediatrics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Austria
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents
  • Smartphone*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires