Health Information and Monitoring
Among Qatari Adolescents, 2017

Executive Summary

This report presents the results of the first comprehensive and large-scale investigation of Qatari teenagers’ health-information and health-monitoring behavior. A survey of more than 1,100 Qataris, 13 to 20 years old, conducted in spring 2017, addressed which the health issues are they are most concerned about, how often they use various types of health monitoring tools and communication platforms to seek health information, how satisfied they are with what they get through these platforms and tools, how much they trust health information channels, and whether they have ever attempted to change their behavior due to health information or digital health tools.

Young people in Qatar still rely heavily on interpersonal sources of health information, including their parents, siblings, friends, and medical providers. Nevertheless, the vast majority of teens also turn to the internet for health information. The internet has far eclipsed other media as a source of health information--particularly newspapers and radio. Only television can compete, some extent, with online sources.
Finally, health campaigns in Qatar do not reach the younger Qatari demographic as often as one would hope. 
Many Qatari teens have also turned to digital devices--apps and games--beyond online health information. Health trackers, however, have not gained traction among teens.

The internet most often serves as a tool for additional information about symptoms, treatments and medication. But it is also a pathway for accessing information that could have a negative impact on their health. This is why our study underscores the importance of ensuring that accurate, appropriate, and easily accessible health information is available to teens online. But Qatari teens’ naivety when it comes to posting about personal health problems is alarming as well--reasons for making sure teens have strong digital health literacy: They need the judgment and skills to know how to assess and deal with the abundance of information they come across online.