Racial and ethnic disparities in internet use for seeking health information among young women

Tabassum H. Laz, Abbey B. Berenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


To examine the influence of race/ethnicity on seeking health information from the Internet among women aged 16-24 years, the authors conducted a self-administered survey on 3,181 women regarding their Internet use and obtaining information on reproductive health (menstruation, contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections) and general health from the Internet. The authors performed multivariate logistic regression to examine the association between race/ethnicity and online health-related information seeking after adjusting for covariates. Racial/ethnic disparities were noted in overall Internet use and its use to locate health information. Overall, more White (92.7%) and Black (92.9%) women used the Internet than did Hispanics (67.5%). More White women (79.2%) used it to find health information than did Blacks and Hispanics (70.3% and 74.3%, respectively). Compared with White women, Blacks and Hispanics were less likely to seek information on contraception [(OR 0.73, 95% CI 0.58-0.91) and (OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.61-0.92)] and more likely to seek information on pregnancy tests [(OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.28-2.18) and (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.09-1.81] and sexually transmitted infections [(OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.11-1.73) and (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.01-1.54)], respectively. With regard to general health issues - such as how to quit smoking, how to lose weight, alcohol/drug use, mood disorders, and skin disorders - Blacks, but not Hispanics, were significantly less likely to seek online information than were Whites. Disparities in the way that women from different backgrounds use the Internet for health-related information could be associated with overall health awareness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-260
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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