Using the Internet to access health-related information: results from a nationally representative sample of New Zealand secondary school students

Utter, Jennifer; Lucassen, Mathijs; Denny, Simon; Fleming, Terry; Peiris-John, Roshini and Clark, Terryann (2018). Using the Internet to access health-related information: results from a nationally representative sample of New Zealand secondary school students. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2017-0096

Abstract

Objective: To determine if secondary school students in New Zealand who report greater health concerns (e.g. significant depressive symptoms) are more likely to use the Internet to access health-related information.

Methods: A nationally representative health and wellbeing survey was undertaken in 2012 (n = 8500). Multiple regression models were used to examine the associations between students’ use of the Internet to access health-related information and selected outcomes or indicators.

Results: Over 90% of students used the Internet on a daily basis, with 15.4% of students reporting that they had used the Internet to access health-related information. Students experiencing household poverty were more likely to report not using the Internet daily (17.4% compared to 4.2%). Odds ratios (ORs) for accessing the Internet for this sort of information were highest for students who reported self-harm [OR 2.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.3–3.3], disordered eating (OR 2.7, 95% CI 2.4–3.2), or a suicide attempt (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.9–3.3).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that Internet-based health interventions may be a viable way to reach young people with high health needs, but consideration needs to be given to those with limited Internet access.

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