Health information helps mitigate adolescent depression: A multivariate analysis of the links between health information use and depression management

Bu Zhong, Juan Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Depression has brought a range of detrimental effects on adolescents. Despite the identified adverse outcomes, it is unclear what mechanisms contribute to the onset of adolescent depression. The limitation calls for innovative ways of managing the mental disorder, including embedding the methods and concepts from the humanities and social sciences into caring depressed teens. This study analyses how adolescents' health information use helps mitigate depressive symptoms.

Methods: Guided by the information processing theories, this study proposes the health information processing model and uses it to analyse the impact of health information use on self-management of depressive symptoms among Chinese urban adolescents aged 10-18. A total of 310 urban teens were recruited from elementary, middle and high schools in Changchun in North China. The data collection was part of a project conducted jointly by China's National Health Commission and the United Nations Children's Fund.

Results: Chinese teens' health knowledge and health literacy helped alleviate depressive symptoms. More health knowledge and self-efficacy predicted positive health behaviour changes, leading to better depression management. Older teens were more depressive and had more health knowledge than younger ones. Depressive symptoms were also associated with gender, school performance, family income and parents' education. Both parents' education levels significantly affected their children's depression, but in different ways. The more urban adolescents trusted health information from parents or teachers, the less they felt depressive, while the health information from peers did not have the same effect.

Conclusion: The study indicates that health information use may represent a unique form of intervention that could help mitigate the mental health issues Chinese youth experience. The findings add new insights to the knowledge of adolescents' depression management and health decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number2
Early online date25 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • adolescent depression
  • health information use
  • health knowledge
  • health literacy
  • information processing
  • teen


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