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Main » 2009 » December » 20 » Internet Workshops Help People Become Better Health Seekers
Internet Workshops Help People Become Better Health Seekers
Although growing numbers of people check their symptoms with "Dr. Google" or seek other medical advice online, many still lack the access and skills to take advantage of the Web's wealth of health information.

But a community-based coalition in Washington, D.C., is working to close that information gap through outreach and education programs, with some success, according to a report in the journal Health Promotion Practice.

In hands-on workshops provided by the Health Information Partners coalition, researchers measured a 26 percent improvement in the workshop participants' ability to use the Internet, evaluate the content on health Web sites, and find credible health information online.

Since slightly less than half of the 91 participants had used the Internet before the workshops, the gains were encouraging, according to Karyn Pomerantz, lead study author and instructor at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and colleagues.

Residents in the District have high rates of diabetes, heart disease and AIDS, "so access to sound health information is critical to dispelling myths and promoting personal health," Pomerantz said.

In postcard surveys sent to residents who enrolled in a workshop or received other Internet training from the coalition, three-fourths of those who returned the survey after the training said that the Internet health information had helped them understand or make a decision about their health.

Included in the study were people with HIV who attended weekly health information classes at a local health center. Since the survey, Pomerantz said, "several have become HIV advocates, sharing HIV information and organizing for community health improvements, such as housing and drug treatment."

Health information training "can activate people to advocate for their own health as well as their community's health," she said.

Health Promotion Practice, a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), publishes authoritative, peer-reviewed articles devoted to the practical application of health promotion and education.

Pomerantz KL, et al. Connecting for health literacy: Health Information Partners. Health Promotion Practice 11(1), 2010.

Source: Health Behavior News Service
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