During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet has been a major source of information for people to keep updated with news and guidelines. However, concerns have been raised about the 'infodemic', which includes the overabundance of online information and the spread of misleading information. Adequate eHealth literacy skills among world citizens have therefore been emphasized as vital during the pandemic. Persons with type 2 diabetes have been at increased risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 disease. This study aimed to explore online COVID-19 information acquisition experiences among persons with type 2 diabetes and varying eHealth literacy. Fifty-eight participants filled out the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS), along with a qualitative questionnaire with free-text questions. Additionally, 10 participants were interviewed. Thematic analysis was applied to identify patterns in participants' experiences. Two domains were identified: perceived challenges with online information about COVID-19, and coping strategies to manage challenges. The perceived challenges were: being exposed to information overload, dealing with conflicting information, and being strongly emotionally affected. The related coping strategies were: protecting oneself, trusting authorities, taking command, and using common sense. These strategies often involved triangulation of the information obtained, including participants consulting their common sense, various sources, or family and friends. This paper highlights the crucial role of authorities in delivering online information, that according to health literacy principles, is easy to access, understand, and use. Furthermore, our results reinforce the importance of diabetes nurses, as well as healthcare professionals in general, in encouraging patients to share their Internet findings, promote information from reliable sources, and deliver tailored information that suits individual needs. Because our results underline the importance of social support in eHealth literacy and the assessment of online health information, the inclusion of family and friends needs to be increasingly considered in diabetes care. Due to the small homogenous sample, the results of this study cannot be generalized. However, the reader can assess the transferability to other situations and settings based on our contextual descriptions.
Keywords: COVID-19; distributed health literacy; eHealth literacy; health literacy; nursing; online health information; type 2 diabetes.