Teens’ Top Sources of Health Information

June 10, 2015

NorthwesternU-Teens-Top-Sources-Health-Info-Jun2015Parents are the top source of health information for teens (13-18), 55% of whom say they get “a lot” of health information from them, according to a study [pdf] from Northwestern University. While one-quarter get a lot of health information from the internet (including 1 in 10 from social media), digital remains behind health classes in school (32%) and doctors/nurses (29%) as a top source of information.

Satisfaction rates with information derived from the internet are relatively low, with 24% “very satisfied” with the information found online, versus 57% very satisfied with information from their parents and 54% from doctors and nurses.

Still, more than 8 in 10 are at least somewhat satisfied with the information they find. Among those who are not, the main reasons are too much conflicting information (42%), the information not appearing reliable (40%) and the information found not being relevant to their particular situation (35%).

According to the study, teens are heavily reliant on search to find health information online. Among the 84% who have looked for health information on the internet, 58% report “often” beginning their search by Googling a topic, and an additional 14% say they often begin their search by using a different search engine. Top rank matters to teens: half of those who use search engines to find information online typically click on the first link that comes up.

Overall, almost one-third of teens say they have changed their behavior because of digital health information.

About the Data: The results are based on a nationally-representative survey of 1,156 U.S. teens ages 13 to 18 years old, conducted among teens in English-speaking households from October 21 through November 9, 2014, and among teens in Spanish-dominant households in March 2015. The survey was designed and analyzed for Northwestern by Vicky Rideout of VJR Consulting and was administered online by the GfK Group using members of its KnowledgePanel. Parental and teen consent were obtained, and the survey was offered in English or Spanish.


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