Volume 10, Issue 2 (9-2023)                   Human Information Interaction 2023, 10(2): 75-92 | Back to browse issues page

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Poorpir Z, kiyani M, Rostaminegad M A, Hosseini Zargaz S E. Health information seeking behavior of Birjand University students in social media during the pandemic Covid-19. Human Information Interaction 2023; 10 (2)
URL: http://hii.khu.ac.ir/article-1-3114-en.html
Knowledge and Information Science, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Birjand, Birjand, Iran.
Abstract:   (1289 Views)
Introduction and Objective: Covid-19 is an infectious respiratory disease that, like other infectious diseases, has affected people's health. As an important source for obtaining health information, social media have made a major contribution in meeting the need for information about Covid-19. The role of people's health information-seeking behavior is important in disease management and control, and it has an impact on the health of the society in the future.
Methodology: This research was practical and survey type. Statistical population, all students were studying at Birjand University at the time of the study. Sampling was done based on proportional classification random sampling (370 people). The research tool was a researcher-made questionnaire. The validity of the questionnaire was measured by using the opinions of experts and experts in information science, epistemology and medical sciences, and its reliability was measured using Cronbach's alpha (0.897).
Findings: The findings of the research showed that students used more search engines, foreign social networks and news media to get information about Covid-19 than reliable sources such as official specialized medical websites. Telegram and Instagram were the most used. They paid more attention to news related to covid-19 and preventive behaviors than getting information about treatment methods. The amount of negative and positive consequences of obtaining information about this disease on students was less than expected and among the components of information-seeking behavior, they paid the least attention to information sharing. In the field of aspects related to Covid-19, they paid the most attention to the educational aspect and the least attention to the political aspect.
Conclusion:  Information and realizing its value and importance in human life today, leads to the concern of how to access the required information from among the multitude of available information. Information-seeking behavior follows the need for information, which includes activities such as information search, search tools, the type of information sought, search problems, and factors affecting it. Since the need for health information due to the spread of the Covid-19 disease creates concerns. Therefore, it leads to health information-seeking behavior, which includes actions related to searching and finding health-related problems, information about diseases, risk factors, and health promotion (Jalilian et al., 2021). In the course of searching for information, a person may use a manual information system or a computer-based system (Wilson, 2000).
Social media, as a platform that provides a lot of information, including health-related information, has been distinguished from other information systems due to components such as quick and easy access, interactive and comprehensible, and convenience. In the process of health information seeking behavior, the role of social media as a tool for searching for information and its effect on people's behavior is important (Liu, 2020). The types of information about which the search helps to meet the need for information and curiosities in the midst of this pandemic, information such as news related to Covid-19 (the number of patients and deaths), preventive behaviors (washing hands regularly, wearing masks) , vaccination, etc.) and various medical methods and related drugs.
Covid-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the corona virus and spread in late 2019. The Corona pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency (Jalilian et al., 2021). This epidemic prompted scientists in different disciplines to investigate various issues arising from this phenomenon (Shehata, 2020). Access to health information is essential for any country and this is more important in developing countries where health challenges are more (Ankama et al., 2021). Progress in the prevention of Covid-19 is partially dependent on understanding the process of health information seeking behavior and its tools. To promote effective health knowledge, behavior change must be done at the individual level, and health messages must be accurate, transparent, and comprehensible. Also, be available and appropriate to the cultural environment of the society (Jalilian et al., 2021). Due to the epidemic nature of this disease and its unexpected consequences, the role of people and their information behaviors in fighting and controlling this disease is very important (Ostadi, 2019).
The main variables of the research included: the amount of use of each type of social media, the amount of use of each type of social network, the types of information obtained, the amount of negative and positive consequences of obtaining information about Covid-19, the amount of each From health information seeking behaviors and aspects related to covid 19.
To carry out the research, the researcher-made questionnaire was used as a data collection tool. This questionnaire was compiled in two parts based on the objectives and questions of the research. The first part includes questions related to the objectives of the research, and in the second part, three questions are asked about the personal characteristics of the respondents.
This questionnaire had 42 items and was measured in 7 variables, which are: social media (items 1-9), social networks (items 10-16), types of information obtained (item 17-21), negative consequences of information acquisition (items 22-26), positive consequences of information acquisition (items 27-33), types of health information-seeking behavior (items 34-37) and related dimensions with covid 19 (items 42-38). The mentioned questionnaire was distributed among the statistical population after checking and testing the validity and reliability. In this research, in order to measure the content validity of the questionnaire, the questions of the questionnaire were prepared by studying and reviewing related study sources, and then using the opinions of experts and experts in information science, philology, and medical sciences, they were reviewed and modified.
Out of a total of 224 respondents, that is, 58% of the people were women and 162 of them, equal to 42%, were men. Students in the study field of humanities with 167 people (43%) have the highest frequency among the respondents. After that, engineering science group with 112 people (29 percent), basic science group with 63 people (16 percent) and agricultural science group with 44 people (12 percent) respectively.
The number of respondents in the undergraduate level was the highest with 319 people (83 percent), as well as 47 people (12 percent) in the master's degree and 20 people (5 percent) in the doctoral level.
In the social media variable, the results showed that the average amount of social media use was generally lower than average. In the components of official medical websites, doctors' websites, unofficial websites, internal social networks, Wikipedia and encyclopedias, discussion groups and forums are also less than It was average. According to Zhang and Zhao (2017) and Haider et al. (2009), concern about the quality of information reduces the amount of social media use and consumer participation.
In the variable of social networks, the findings show that the average amount of use of the variable of social networks was generally lower than the average. Due to the filtering of YouTube, Twitter, and Clubhouse platforms, their use was quite logically lower than average. In the components of the Telegram and Instagram platforms, the average amount of use was more than average. The researchers' field observations of the users' use of these networks are consistent with the obtained results, as a result, the use of social networks due to their accessibility and the widely used role of mobile phone technology today is a source of information dissemination and information acquisition. Since the specialized information on websites and official sources is valuable, it is necessary to pay attention to the reason why they are not given much attention, and it should be carefully rooted and investigated.
The search rate of Birjand University students regarding each type of health information about Covid-19, the research indicates that, in general, the search rate in the variable of types of information about Covid-19 was equal to the average. But in the components of news related to Covid-19, preventive behaviors were more than average. Since the purpose of searching users during the Covid-19 pandemic was to deal with the said disease; Therefore, the results refer to the consumption of health information related to the news of Covid-19 and various preventive behaviors, because obtaining health information about each of the information related to Covid-19 is important in the process of managing and controlling this disease.
The rate of negative consequences of acquiring information about Covid-19 was below average. Also, in all components of worry, anxiety, lack of trust in information, confusion and confusion, and cognitive avoidance were also below the average level. What causes worry and anxiety in people is often lack of awareness and lack of ability to manage a crisis. In Nakheizadeh's new research (2019), the level of anxiety caused by covid-19 was high, as Nakheizadeh's study shows, his research is related to the early period of the corona epidemic. What is remarkable at the beginning of the matter, with the indiscriminate spread and the lack of sufficient and correct information about this disease, as well as the lack of a related vaccine, the influx of this amount of anxiety and worry among people can be considered normal. Moreover, the data of the current research was collected after about two years of the corona virus, when the students were in the approximate routine of life before the corona virus, right at the same time as face-to-face education in the university, and this change in the results can be completely logically explained. Justified. Also, the study of Bigdali et al. (2013) also expressed the positive view of users towards health information on the web. Montsi (2020) also stated that even receiving fake information does not affect people's physical or mental health, and its results are completely intangible, which can be roughly generalized to the results of this research and considered consistent.
In the variable of positive outcomes of acquiring information about Covid-19, it was below average. Also, in the components of the ability to recognize the need for information, search skills, the spirit of cooperation and information sharing, and the promotion of critical thinking, it was also below average. Also, in the components of knowledge of information sources and ability to evaluate information sources, it was equal to the average level. As a result, considering that in some components of the skill of recognizing the need for information and the ability to evaluate information sources, their average score was equal to the average level, which indicates that their health literacy is average; Because the results are consistent with the acquisition of their health information sources (social networks), so it is in line with the results of Apok and Ellis.
The average rate of performing various types of information-seeking behavior about Covid-19 was higher than average. Also, in the components of information search, identifying the need for information and changing health and treatment behavior, seeking more information was more than average. In the information sharing component, the average score of this component was equal to the average; Considering that the sources of obtaining health information about this disease are basically the media and social networks. What emerges from the evidence is that following a crisis or problem related to health and feeling the need for related information, people start searching for related sources and if it is noticeable, their health information seeking behavior is an increasing trend. has it. Therefore, the present study is consistent with all previous studies.
The results of the present study show that the average of information acquisition in the variable of information dimensions related to Covid-19 was higher than the average and also in all components, including dimensions related to health, economic, political, social and educational, the average score was higher. It was average. In other words, the findings show the students' concerns about each of the dimensions related to economy, health, politics, social justice, and especially about education and concerns about holding classes, not having the necessary infrastructure in an optimal way. In some people, lack of concentration and anxiety is caused by the situation.
The findings showed that the most sources of obtaining health information for students of Birjand University are search engines, foreign social networks and news media, and they paid less attention to reliable media such as official specialized medical websites. Also, the results point to the important and prominent role of Telegram and Instagram platforms. In addition, what the studied community sought to obtain information about covid-19 was mostly preventive behaviors and news related to covid-19 rather than its treatment methods. Also, the results showed that the health information-seeking behavior of Birjand University students has generally increased during this pandemic; But they have done the behavior of sharing information related to Covid less. Meanwhile, the role of dimensions related to Covid-19, including dimensions related to health, economic, political, social and educational, and obtaining information about each of these dimensions was of great importance for students, and the most important aspect for them was the educational dimension. .
The results showed that women used reliable sources such as official specialized medical websites and news media compared to men, and men used social networks (Telegram, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube) and search engines to get information about Covid. 19 have used. The influence of the role of gender showed that women are more interested in obtaining all kinds of information about this disease, and also paid more attention to the negative consequences of women; After creating negative consequences in women, they sought to obtain information about preventive behaviors. Because a significant relationship has been established between negative consequences and preventive behaviors in past studies. In addition, the role of gender had no effect on the positive outcomes and dimensions related to Covid-19, except for the economic dimension component. The field of study and level of study did not make a significant difference in the research variables. Based on this, it is suggested to hold training courses to improve the quality and awareness of health information literacy in social networks and news media for students of different levels. Also, policy makers and decision makers should pay more attention to providing authentic information on social media for the audience. Social networks and internal messengers should be adapted in the field of providing health information. Future researches can examine the subject of study in other societies and use different research methods to collect data or analyze findings.
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