Behavioral Change

Health Information as a Reason for Behavior Change

Have Qatari teens changed a health-related behavior as a result of the health information they encountered? To find out, we presented them with the sources they claimed to have used for health information and asked: “Irrespective of whether you succeeded or not, have you ever tried to change your behavior because of any of the health-related information you’ve found from each of the following sources?”

Interestingly, none of these sources is really unimportant in prompting teens to attempt to change their health behavior. Even “ads on TV,” the least influential source, led more than half of their viewers to try to change their behavior. However, personal communication is the most prominent:

“Guardians” (i.e., mostly one’s parents), brothers or sisters, doctors or nurses, and friends were said to be the most influential sources. This may not be too surprising, given that these same sources are the most likely to be used and trusted by Qatari teens for the purposes of health information (see above, Table 5 and 8 respectively).

However, more than two thirds of respondents also mentioned that traditional media channels led them to try to change their health-related behavior (leaflets/pamphlets from hospitals, health classes in school, books), but online sources as well (the local Sahatak Awalan website on health, Snapchat, online forums about health communication and Facebook) (Table 10).

What kinds of health-related behavior did teens try to change because of health sources? Most often (and quite plausibly) the behaviors that they tried to change were those that are the most important to them personally (see above, Table 3): diet and nutrition, fitness and exercise, dental health, sleep, and hygiene. Still, more than 50 percent also mention stress or anxiety, issues surrounding puberty, and colds/flu (Table 11).




Digital Health Tools

Among those who have downloaded a health-related mobile app and used a wearable health tracker, a little more than 60 percent said they have tried to change a health behavior because of those health tools. Health-related games were a little less effective: About half of their users mentioned that they have changed their behavior as a result (Chart 19).

For health-related games, particularly popular among Qatari teens (see above, Chart 10), four fifths and more of the gamers tell us that they tried to change the following types of health behaviors, in descending order: fitness and exercise, diet and nutrition, dental health, and sleep. Again, these are health issues that young Qataris are most concerned about personally (see above, Table 3). But mental health (75 percent) and smoking (66 percent) are still very important as well (Chart 20).