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  • A cross-section study to assess Health Information Seeking Behavior (HISB) in Syria

    Date Submitted: Oct 15, 2020

    Open Peer Review Period: Oct 15, 2020 - Dec 10, 2020

    Background: The wide-spread use of the internet, and the numerous websites and platforms it provides access to allow users to reach a multitude of articles on almost any topic, which raises the issue...

    Background: The wide-spread use of the internet, and the numerous websites and platforms it provides access to allow users to reach a multitude of articles on almost any topic, which raises the issue of the quality and reliability of the information obtained online. Without denying the existence of reliable websites, the main question remains whether information seekers are reaching these websites. While many studies have been done to answer these questions, few were undertaken in third world countries. Objective: This study attempts to shed light on the current Health Information Seeking Behaviors (HISB) in Syria, to provide data, and to lay the ground for future studies. Methods: This is a cross-section study that used a questionnaire to identify and measure different HISB habits in Syria. A chi-square test was used to study the relations between different demographic groups and different HISB groups, and the relations between Different HISB groups. The study used the DISCERN Instrument to assess the reliability and quality of the information obtained by participants, and the means for the reliability score, the quality score, and the total DISCERN Instrument score were calculated and compared to scores of different methods of HISB with a T-score test. Results: The study suggests that Search Engines are the most commonly used method when actively seeking health information (52%), followed by official websites (26.6%) and unofficial websites (11.8%), with social media being the least used method (9.7%). Official websites scored the highest mean on the DISCERN Instrument score with 3.77 (±0.651), and the highest mean in reliability with 4.02 (±0.598), while social media scored the highest mean in quality with 3.53 (±1.014). Search Engines scored the lowest means in all 3 aspects, with a total DISCERN score of 3.35 (±0.715), a reliability score of 3.57 (±0.712), and a quality score of 3.11 (±0.915). Conclusions: Official websites need to take more steps to provide better quality information for users. Non-medical provider users search for overview more often, therefore official websites should provide an overview of the topics at the start of their materials.

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