health communication

New Paper:Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis


Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis

Forthcoming; Social Science and Medicine, 

Gustavo Mesch, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Haifa,

Rita Mano, Department of Human Services, University of Haifa,

Yeudit Tsamir, Department of Evaluation & Research, Maccabi Health Services,

Group differences in the search of health information were investigated, to test the
diversification hypothesis that argues that disadvantaged groups in society will be
more likely to use the Internet and computer mediated communication to access
health information to compensate for their lack of social capital. Data were gathered
from a sample of Internet users representative of the percentage of minorities in the
general population in Israel (n=1371). The results provide partial support for the
hypothesis, indicating that in multicultural societies disadvantaged groups show
greater motivation to use the Internet to access medical information than the majority
group. We interpreted our findings as suggesting that minority groups that do not
have access to specialized networks use the Internet to overcome their lack of access
to specialized information. Implications of the finding are discussed


New Study
During December 2009, we conducted a survey of a representative sample of the Israeli population (n=2008) to investigate inequalities in access health information (online, face-to-face and traditional media) in Israel. The study is funded by the Macabi Health Insurance Fundation. Principal Investigators are Gustavo Mesch (Sociology, Haifa, Rita Mano ( Department of Human Services at the University of Haifa and Yeudit Tsamir( from the statistics department of Macabi Health Insurance). Sample included 46.5% males and 53.5 percent women. In terms of family status, 71.3 percent were married , 5.5 percent widows, 5.5 percent divorced, and 17 percent single and never married. The average age of the sample was 46. 9 years old (sd=16.9) and on average have completed 13.42(sd=3.38) years of formal education. Computer use at home, 72.7 percent of the sample have access to a computer at home. (78.6 percent of the Jews, 66.8 percent of new immigrants and 66.8 percent of the Arabs).
Chronic Medical conditions: from the sample 47.6 % reported being healthy, Hypetension 27.5 %, Diabetes, 14.4 %, Heart disease 7.8 %, Cancer 2.4 % and other condition requiring drug dependency 0.3 %.
Frequency of use of different sources of health information. Ask a Physician or nurse 86%, ask a family member 71%, ask a friend 63 %, Internet 63 %, T.V. 62 %, consult a book 52 %, consult a journal 51 %.
Trust in sources of health information. On a scale of 1 to 5 when the highest trust is 5.
Physician 4.13, Nurse 3.50,Family and friends 2.97, Internet 2.74, journals 2.50 and newspapers 2.28.
Use of online services: 29 % made an appointment with the family doctor online, 27 percent made an appointment with a specialist online, 21 percent made an appointment with a nurse online, 46 percent accessed their blood tests online.
Effect of health information online. In the survey we asked if as a consequence of accessing health information online, respondents decided to take an action.
54% reported that reading online health information definitely influenced their health activities.
45% reported that the information online helped them to start physical activity.
39% said that online information help them to make a decision to start a weight loss program.
16 % changed their physician and 24% asked to change their pills as a result of the online information..