eHealth Literacy and Online Health Information Seeking in Parents During Hospitalization of a Child: A Cross Sectional Study of Parental Coping in the Digital Age

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Manchester, Hailey
eHealth Literacy , Information Seeking , Parent(s) , Coping , Hospitalization , eHealth , Child Hospitalized , Health Information , Online Health Information
Background: Many parents of hospitalized children use the Internet to look for health information regarding their child’s condition. Due to the unregulated nature and unreliable quality of online health information this important problem focused coping strategy may be influenced by person characteristics such as eHealth literacy self-efficacy. Unfortunately, research focusing on online health information seeking as a coping behaviour is limited. This study sought to fill this gap and expand research in this area. The purpose of this study was to explore how eHealth literacy self-efficacy contributes to online health information seeking amongst parents of hospitalized children and, ultimately, how it contributes to problem focused coping strategies and coping outcomes of parents when their children are hospitalized. Methods: A cross-sectional design was used to test the hypotheses with a sample of 61 parents of paediatric inpatients in a single paediatric unit in Southeastern Ontario. Parents were asked to complete a questionnaire including demographics, Internet use, eHEALS, Brief COPE, and Psychological Well-being Index. Results: The results demonstrated that eHealth literacy self-efficacy contributes positively to online health information seeking amongst parents of hospitalized children. Older age was found to contribute to decreased use of the Internet to seek health information amongst parents. Personal characteristics (length of stay and income) were found to make significant contributions to problem-focused coping behaviours whereas eHealth literacy self-efficacy and online health information seeking were not. Furthermore, problem-focused coping behaviour was found to contribute positively while length of hospital stay was found to contribute negatively to coping outcome (emotional state) of parents of hospitalized children. It is hoped that findings from this thesis will provide useful insight into coping and information seeking amongst parents of paediatric patients in the digital age.
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