Aging in cyberspace: Exploring health information acquisition among older WeChat users

Wenshu Li, Leanne Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

A growing number of older adults are using social media to acquire health information through active information search (i.e., information seeking) and routine exposure to media sources (i.e., information scanning). In China, as in other societies, social media platforms have become a mixed source of credible and unreliable health information that could impact older adults’ health self-management. Understanding factors associated with their use of social media to acquire health information is crucial for promoting smart online information practices among older adults. Against this backdrop, this study explored the association between two cognitive factors (outcome expectancy and efficacy) and two relational factors (social support and health opinion leadership) with older WeChat users’ health information seeking and scanning behaviors. We conducted a paper-and-pencil survey with 407 older adults aged 60 and above (M = 68.54, SD = 6.21) in an eastern city in China. The results indicated that older WeChat users’ health information scanning was associated with their health status, efficacy, social support, and health opinion leadership. Additionally, their health information seeking was associated with their education, efficacy, health opinion leadership, and frequency of health information scanning. This paper concludes with discussions on the theoretical and practical implications of the findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Media and China
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • health information
  • information scanning
  • information seeking
  • older adults
  • social media

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