Health awareness and the acquisition of health & medical information by university students

To clarify the correlation between university students’ health awareness and behavior and the acquisition of related information, we asked first year students to participate in a questionnaire survey. The survey contained eight questions related to health awareness and customs, five questions related to media use, and four questions related to the use of health and medical information.
As shown in Figure 1, a rather high percentage of respondents feel that they are not healthy and many do not pay attention to health maintenance.
During a one month period just prior to the survey, 59.5% of the respondents were influenced by health information (e.g. change of behavior or custom, search for information). The main source of information was television followed by the internet, magazines, and friends; and there was an average of 2.2 information sources per person. In contrast, only 42.1% of the respondents were influenced by medical information. In addition, 62.5% of respondents were influenced by only one source of information. With medical information, while television and the internet remained the main sources of information, the influence of print media such as magazines, books, and newspapers was low (Figure 2).
The number of respondents who actively searched for health information and medical information during the one month period before the survey was 46.0% and 43.0% respectively. For active searching, the internet was used much more frequently than other types of media with over half the respondents going online to search for information. Nearly 25% of the respondents used the internet in combination with another source of information, and the remaining 20% only used sources of information other than the internet (Table 1).
The use of health information and medical information did not have any influence on the health condition and the motivation to improve health. Regardless of whether action was actually taken to maintain health, respondents who said they “care about health” were more inclined to search for health information than those who said they “do not care about health.”
Of the respondents who used multiple sources to search for medical information, many used the internet for a long period of time. A relatively large number of respondents who used the internet for a short period of time used one source of information other than the internet. Though not statistically significant, a similar trend was observed in the search for health information. Respondents with a high-level of online skill may-depending on the information sought-combine the internet with other sources of information. For a generation that has grown up on the internet, passive access to health information and medical information is based on television and the internet, while other sources include print media, friends, and family members. The internet provides far and away the most active access to such information. This research shows that habitual and skilled users of the internet tend to combine various sources of information to achieve a deeper level of search.

Figure 1 Awareness and Action related to Health Maintenance (N= 119)

Figure 2 Source of Influential Health and Medical Information (N= 69, 48)

Table 1 Source of Health and Medical Information Search

健康情報 医療情報
インターネット単独 30 57.7% 26 53.1%
インターネットを含む複数 13 25.0% 12 24.5%
インターネット以外の単独 7 13.5% 9 18.4%
インターネットを含まない複数 2 3.8% 2 4.1%


52   49  

Figure 3 Internet Use Time and Medical Information Search Sources