Perceived Quality of Health Information Sources
The most important criteria for selecting sources of health information are confidentiality and convenience (finding information “easily” and “at a time and place that is convenient for you”). More than three quarters of our respondents name these criteria. Even at the end of our list of possible reasons, there is one more convenience item that is still very popular: not having to see a healthcare professional--but also “not having to rely solely on a doctor telling you what to take/what was wrong with you” (Chart 7).
We then asked respondents which health information sources they trusted, among the sources they said they use at all. At least half of the users of a given source said they trusted it – this is quite plausible because trust is certainly one of the major considerations when choosing whether or not to use a source for health information. So, it may also be unsurprising that the most trusted sources for health information are (in most cases) also the most often used (see above, Table 5): Personal sources like guardians, doctors/nurses, and brothers or sisters--top the list again. Only friends rank a little lower than before.
The top group of trusted sources (mentioned by at least three quarters of our respondents) includes leaflets/pamphlets from hospitals, books, and health classes. Interestingly, Sahatak Awalan is the only campaign website that is also one of the most trusted sources. It was not used by particularly many teens (see above, Table 5), but it seems that those who do use it for health information, also trust it disproportionally (Table 8).
Our findings clearly show that Qatari teens find online health information useful. For health or medical information specifically on the internet, we had asked about a number of consequences resulting from it in the past twelve months. More than two thirds of Qatari teens agreed with all seven potential results of consulting the internet that we had presented to them. More than three fourths claimed that – based on health information found online – they tried to diagnose a health problem, felt more comfortable with advice from doctors, and sought more information.
Notably, the most common impact of seeking health content online mentioned above is about information, as opposed to real actions such as contacting a health professional or treating a health problem. But reassuringly, these two ‘actions’ were still mentioned by more than two thirds of our respondents (Chart 8).
Posting something about health. Qatari teens are not particularly reluctant to post about health issues online. Privacy concerns do not seem to play a big role for them. While Qatari teens are a little more hesitant to post about health issues on more ‘public’ social media sites (such as Facebook or Twitter) than on direct messaging services such as WhatsApp, the difference is surprisingly small. Respondents were also more likely to post about a “general health topic that doesn’t affect me personally” than to post about “a personal health problem”--but again, there is only an unexpectedly small difference (Chart 9).