Peter O Conlon. The Health Information Seeking Behavior of IFC Fraternity Men at Two Universities. A Master’s Paper for the M.S. in L.S degree. April 2020. 47 pages. Advisor: Mary Grace Flaherty
There is a long history of research within information science dedicated to Information Seeking Behavior. Within Information Seeking Behavior, the subset of Health Information Seeking Behavior (HISB) has become increasingly
relevant. In order to investigate the HISB of male fraternity members, a survey was sent out to two specific populations of male students at two different universities. This study found that fraternity members had higher than average access to health resources. Fraternity members accessed and trusted digital health resources at similar levels as non-affiliated male students, and had similar HISB behavior as non-affiliated male students. Future research should consider whether health care access has an impact on HISB.
THE HEALTH INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOR OF IFC FRATERNITY MEN AT TWO UNIVERSITIES
by Peter Conlon
A Master's paper submitted to the faculty of the School of Information and Library Science of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in
Chapel Hill, North Carolina April, 2020
There is a long history of research within information science dedicated to Information Seeking Behavior. Within Information Seeking Behavior, the subset of Health Sciences Information Seeking Behavior (HISB) has become
increasingly relevant. As society has become more digital, more people have started to use online resources to do health research. How people conduct research when they have health issues is a topic of much interest. Health issues weigh heavily upon young people. Young people may be especially inclined to look up health information online due to their familiarity and confidence around digital devices. According to the Pew Research Center (2016), 93% of young adults ages 18-29 use the internet. How do our college students examine this wealth of information as it relates to healthcare? How often do students go to what specific sources? Is there any stigma attached to the use of these health sources relating to mental health diagnosis? These are all questions that recent studies have
attempted to answer.
What is Health Information Seeking Behavior? Health Information Seeking Behavior can be defined as the resources and time spent looking up or engaging with health information that could be related to a current or past health issue currently faced by the subject (Lambert, Loiselle 2007). Health Information Seeking Behavior can manifest in a wide variety of forms such as calling a
in 2015 (Comscore, 2015). College students are 74% more likely to use the internet for Health Information Seeking Behavior than the general public (Basch, 2018)
Why do students display a preference to use the internet for health
research at all? Students may “use the internet to gather information about health topics that are hard to discuss with others” (Pew Research Center, 2016). In other words, no in-person visits with doctors or clinics are necessary. Healthcare in the United States can also be expensive in time and money invested, while a simple Google search is free and convenient. During a 2010 study, Tustin discovered that the “tendency to actively monitor their health motivates people to seek health
information from sources other than their physician” can drive people to access the internet as a source for health information (p. 5). Online diagnostic services such as WebMD are quite popular, widespread and ubiquitous. According to WebMD’s own website, in 2017 the site saw 75 million unique visitors in the United States alone (WebMD). Of those 75 million, 49 million were on a mobile device (WebMD).
Likewise, peripheral services such as digital health surveillance devices like Fitbits™ are popular amongst college students. These services and devices give constant health information that students can use to help self-diagnose and be aware of their current state of health. Young people as a group are largely
Healthcare professionals and services are aware of this and Lipton (2013) labels this as a movement towards digital “Patient Empowerment” (p. 257). According to Lipton (2013), young people increasingly wish to be amongst the group of engaged patients online and otherwise with their health. Lipton (2013) refers to this class of patients as “the digitally engaged patient,” a patient that uses online services and utilizes digital health searching behavior (p 256).
A general male student population has been examined for their Health Information Seeking Behavior (HISB) but there has not been many studies which examine a male student population without studying the female student
population as well. More than likely the HISB of the general student populace would be different compared to a D1 Football team full of student athletes who have access to personalized medical attention and nutritionists. One such specific male populace, the University of North Carolina fraternity system, has not been studied with regard to HISB. By researching and understanding the HISB of this specific populace one can see how effective surveys and other tools are for gathering this information for future use in larger populations.
Primarily, the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) fraternities were the subjects of this study. According to the grade report released publicly by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (2019), the IFC population at UNC had 1305
members in the Spring of 2019. That number was spread amongst 27 Greek Letter Organizations operating under the supervision of the IFC with permission by the school (Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, 2019). The average chapter size was 52 members. It is expected that there will be no true digital divide issues but any issues of access will be monitored and accounted for within the study. At the University of Lynchburg, there are 76 fraternity men split between 3 fraternities. The research question what Health Information Seeking Behavior do IFC Fraternity men at the University of North Carolina and the University of
and that will be treated as the baseline such as Basch (2018). Does IFC membership make one more or less likely to use the same online sources as unaffiliated male students? Do fraternity men engage more frequently with online sources than unaffiliated male students? These are all questions this study sought to answer.
Fraternity: I will be looking at primarily IFC social fraternities which exist on UNC's campus. These are groups of men normally ranging from 30-100+ members which exist as a club together known as a Chapter.
IFC: IFC stands for Inter-fraternity Council which makes up the majority of social fraternities on colleges and universities campuses. Typically, IFC membership is required for fraternity chapters to exist legally on campus. A meeting with
different fraternities’ leadership, will be the primary vehicle for research materials to be distributed. IFC fraternities are in a separate council from historical minority fraternities and sororities known as the National Multicultural Greek Council. IFC Fraternities are part of the North-American Interfraternity Conference
The following review of the literature comes from starting at the beginning of studies of Information Seeking and into the modern Health Information Seeking Behavior field. In this review major works in the field are studied chronologically. The works discussed progress naturally from major work to major work normally from direct citation. The transition between Information Seeking Behavior to Health Information Seeking Behavior was a gradual one which will be underscored with subheadings in this literature review.
Information Seeking Behavior
To begin studying Health Information Seeking Behavior (HISB) one should look first at the field of Information Seeking Behavior. Information Seeking Behavior is typically exemplified in a variety of models and charts throughout its history of being described. Theoretical background will be coming primarily from the Information Science portion of this literature review, with the Health Information Seeking Behavior studies being more of the methodological influence. Originating out of a need to study users and the information they needed to find in library settings, Information Seeking Behavior studies not just what information the user has gathered, but how they went about looking for it. Information needs as a concept was discussed before Information Seeking
and Taylor’s 1967 work “Question-negotiation and Information Seeking In Libraries” which both discussed how reference librarians navigated user interactions as well as gathered data on current trends in library practices. However, the important distinction to note is that these studies and others like them were not behavior based. Future studies brought in many different fields and these early works, although inspirational to key figures in the information science world, were limited in scope. Information Seeking Behavior begat Health
Information Seeking Behavior in a parallel roundabout way.
The term “Information Seeking Behavior” was first used in the seminal work “On user studies and information needs” by T.D. Wilson in 1981 (p. 3). To
college students studying their health information searching. When a user queries an information system this is a reflection rather than a direct statement of their information need according to Taylor (1962). In the case of college students searching for health information online, they more often than not do not have the necessary medical background to search for the clinical diagnosis themselves using formal diagnosis techniques. In other words, “Lay-people often do not have enough knowledge to distinguish useful information with matching readability from search results” (Pang et. al. 2015). This issue is addressed within the landmark study Pang et. al. (2015) and will be discussed in more detail.
Within the definition of Information Seeking Behavior, what exactly is information seeking? Outside the purview of Information Seeking Behavior research there is the closely related research around “Sense-Making” (p. 16) first devised in 1977 by Brenda Dervin in her article “Useful theory for librarianship: Communication, not information.” “Sense-Making” (Dervin, 1997, p. 16) revolves around the internal state of attempting to find new information within a user’s head, a fairly hard thing to quantify and study. When placed in an
information dearth environment or when research needs to be done people want to “make sense” of the information that is given to them (Dervin, 1997, p. 19). According to Dervin (1997), communication is key in “bridging the (information) gap” (p. 20) to reach any kind of information. Within Dervin’s (1997) model,
as the answers, ideas and resources they find along the way. Information seeking is iterative (Dervin, 1977).
Wilson (1981) contributed greatly to the field of Information Sciences by expanding upon his idea of what Information Seeking was. Wilson (1981)
combined the ‘Information Seeking’ (not yet described as a process fully within a theoretical framework) to address ‘Information Needs.’ In the work Wilson (1981) discusses that normally while engaging in Information Seeking Behavior “users” make a demand on an “informational system” (p. 4) to reach the
information that they wish to find stemming from the aforementioned
‘information need’. Once the relevant information is found, the user takes it and
utilizes it in some way. If the user cannot find the information, (Wilson’s “success / failure” part of his model)(p. 6), that they were originally attempting to find the user restarts the search, attempts different search terms or even give up the search altogether, depending on a variety of factors relating to the users environment, level of desire for the information amongst other things. How is this any different than a college student going to Google and typing in symptoms to find an amateur self-diagnosis?
In the digital age, although not necessarily using as many non-digital means as described in Wilson’s work, the concepts found within “On user studies and information needs” are easy to translate to information seeking behavior
asked of a physician are information seeking, and consequently Information Seeking Behavior. The concept of everything being information seeking was expounded upon in Savolainen’s 1995 “Everyday life information seeking.” Even in 1981, Wilson acknowledges that technology is an important tool to utilize in assisting in information searching, and technology now exists in 2019 which can help assist the user in reaching across that gap between the information holders and those that seek it. According to Wilson (1981), (and supported by earlier sources such as Dervin (1977) and others), information seeking requires other people in some capacity, either answering the question or creating the sources.
Under Wilson’s First Model, the information creators themselves have
created searchable forms of databases of information which can be extrapolated outside of Wilson’s time as any database of information. That means the database that was created could be something with the modern convenience of WebMD or something such as a medical book (Wilson, 1981). Wilson takes an intersectional approach to Information Seeking Behavior by saying that the three main
information needs humanity has can be quantified as either “physiological needs, affective needs, or emotional needs” but does not elaborate within the context of his model itself (1981, p. 6). Healthcare information would fall under
physiological needs. These are the 3 different types of information need as Wilson (1981) believes them which would be expanded upon in that selfsame
intersectional methodology by future theorists such as, to a limited extent,
Closely following Wilson (1981) came James Krikelas (1983) who sought to answer the question of how to define Information Seeking Behavior. Krikelas (1983) restates what Wilson was describing in his First Model by stating that “information-seeking behavior begins when someone realizes the existence of an information need and ends when that need is believed to have been satisfied” (p. 7). Similarly, Krikelas (1983) places emphasis on documents and library usage. However, differing from Wilson (1981) Krikelas (1983) does not have the clear cut ‘Success’ / ‘Failure’ dichotomy that Wilson (1981) favors instead viewing it as an iterative process, similarly to how Dervin (1977) viewed it. Krikelas’ (1983) model flows smoother than Wilson’s (1981) in terms of accessibility due to this,
although neither model has a specific end-state. One can see this advancement away from that particular binary in future research, particularly in the Health Information Seeking Behavior studies where there is not normally a typical total failure state unless the user stops searching. Krikelas (1983) also accounts for “memory” and “personal files” as part of his system which harkens back to
long-term needs while maintaining understanding unconsciously what they already used or need.
Utilizing the concept of unconscious need (and the intense anxiety found therein) found in Krikelas (1983) juxtaposed against the earlier Wilson (1981) model Kulthau (1991) developed the Informational Search Process to much theoretical success. First described in “Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user’s perspective,” the ISP can be described as a six step model which incorporates intersectional theoretical elements to gain a better
describe them accurately, they will more than likely get bad or not helpful results. This phenomenon has been documented in several cases with English as a Second Language students (Chavarria, 2017) (Delago, 1995) (Morahan-Martin 2004). If the health information system is failing the user, this could cause anxiety or anger which could cause the user to prematurely stop the search.
Kulthau (1991) discusses anxiety in several stages of her ISP,
particularly in the starting stages of a search. This information seeking anxiety is mirrored and amplified when health is at stake or perceived to be at stake (Lagoe, et. al., 2015). Eventually the field would develop into the Health Information Seeking Behavior, and although not explicitly said, some researchers would pull heavily upon Kuhlthau (1991) and her work. Sources such as Carolyn Largoe’s (2015) “Health anxiety in the digital age: An exploration of psychological
Kuhlthau (1991) was a trendsetter in putting such stock in the user’s state of being. Wilson’s (1981) First Model and other early Information Seeking Behavior models did not truly account for formal organized sources, such as information systems, interacting with informal sources, such as everyday life interactions until Kuhlthau (1991). The earlier Information Seeking Behavior models did not explicitly deal with emotional side effects of the information search process, preferring instead a colder, library-based, and logical approach although Wilson (1981) does go briefly over it. The shift towards the studying of the underlying state of the user would be essential in the future development of the Health Information Seeking Behavior theory later on, as the state of patient or student being studied is paramount in terms of studying how to improve the Health Information System as well as future studies (Lagoe, et. al., 2015, Graffigna, et.al., 2017). The theoretical approach to these everyday life interactions would be expanded upon further in the aptly named 1995’s “Everyday life information seeking: Approaching information seeking in the context of “way of life’” by Savolainen.
notes specifically that searching for healthcare is an excellent example of the ELIS (Everyday Life Information Seeking) process (p. 267). Focusing on what she labels as “the mastery of everyday life” (p. 267) Savolainen (1995) describes how people will consistently monitor their own health within the context of a “passive monitoring of everyday life events” (p.267). Within the context of college students engaging in Health Information Seeking Behavior, the students could be made aware of a health issue either through their own “passive
monitoring” (p. 267) something is wrong with me or via a device such as a Fitbit™ which is designed to monitor them (Savolainen 1995). Health is
considered a “non-trivial” concern with Savolainen’s (1995) framework and this
is the first time it would be mentioned in the same breath as Information Seeking Behavior. Subsequent research would mention health information more frequently within more modern studies and build upon it in their own respective ways still continuing the interdisciplinary nature of these types of studies.
Modern research on Information Seeking Behavior typically branches off of the 4 main articles discussed in a few ways, namely dealing with the advent of the internet. The Internet from an information perspective is an incredible
how youths used the internet to conduct research and Marchionini (1997) who focused primarily on the newfound technology and “Human Computer
Interaction” (p.187). This led to the current state of the field in which information professionals iterate off of the 4 main articles and make their own models which typically focus on one specific aspect keeping in mind advances in digital media. Information Seeking Behavior studies must keep up with the times. Marchionini (1997) stated it perfectly when he said “Technology amplifies information seeking when it provides mechanical advantages for some of the information-seeking subprocesses, which in turn allows reallocations of time and cognitive load” (p. 185). At this point in the research there is no getting around the usage of
the internet and its importance to health information seeking. The internet, and by extension services such as WebMd and general Google searches have not
replaced the physician’s office, but rather “augmented” it (Marchionini 1997).
studies and general surveys about who actually engages in HISB such as Lagoe (2015). All of these studies built off one another and are presented here mostly chronologically.
The beginning of Information Seeking within the healthcare field was in studies such as Wallston, et al. (1976) and Lenz (1984) who wished to study students. Wallston, K. A., Maides, S., & Wallston, B. S. (1976) was a landmark study in that it took concepts from the social sciences field, particularly Rotter (1956) and applied them to the healthcare field as it relates to Information
Seeking. While early information science research could morph organically from the library-based studies, on the healthcare side of things, researchers had to take from a more diverse selection of sources such as studies about marketing,
Wallston (1976) by giving definitions which would be used by future studies within the Health Information Seeking Behavior field. According to Lenz (1984) there are two “basic methods” of going about looking for information in a health focused study. These methods are “impersonal” and “personal” ways of gaining new information (Lenz 1984, p. 63). People either go about searching for health information by using their social contacts or by consulting resources created without any tailoring to them (Lenz 1984). Lenz (1984) described a six step “information search process” (p. 60), 6 years before Kuhlthau (1991) would make the same advancement. Despite Kuhlthau (1991) and Lenz (1984) sharing none of the same sources, the terminology used to describe this process is very similar. Kuhlthau (1991) brings in social science to study students while Lenz (1984) utilizes different psychology ideas to improve nursing theory. The parallel development of these two fields would eventually morph into the modern Health Information Seeking Behavior arena of study.
The first study which cross-pollinated effectively from a strict Library Science model was Baker and Pettigrew (1999) which laid the groundwork for examining consumer Health Information Seeking Behavior from a Library Science perspective. The two schools of thought it pulls from, sociology and psychology, mirror the development of Information Seeking Behavior in its early stages. In the psychology theory portion of Baker’s article (1999) what differs
inducing scenarios (p. 446). People choose to either “monitor” or “blunt” the health situation (Miller 1987, p. 34). This theory would be expounded upon in Rees and Bath’s (2001) article “Information-seeking behaviors of women with breast cancer” which would then be the basis for an offshoot study of Health
Information Seeking Behavior in which specifically the population being studied are typically in a stressful life-threatening health situation.
The second method mentioned in the Baker et. al. (1999) is coming from a sociological perspective discussing the strength of weak ties and how
information needs relating to healthcare can be resolved within one’s own social network (Baker 1999). The source means “social network” but that same term
could be applied to modern day social media network as one sees in future studies such as the landmark study Basch (2018). Basch (2018), as shown in appendix 1, takes the sociological methodology discussed in Baker et. al. 1999 and applies it to college students. Basch (2018) is a bedrock article for this study and influences much of the methodology. These concepts and ideas were not new in the
Information Seeking Behavior arena in 1999 but they were new to the field of Health Information Seeking Behavior. Baker (1999) is also notable for stating for the first time, (in a LIS context), the question which serves as the basis for this study and future studies: “What role does the internet play in the health
information-seeking behavior…” (Baker 1999, p. 448).
The second cross-pollinator and arguably one of the most important
juxtaposed the two concepts of Information Seeking Behavior and Health Information Seeking Behavior against one another to synthesize a unique understanding which incorporates many elements of previous studies from a variety of fields. Case (2005) brought the concepts found in Wilson’s (2000) modern model and applied it to the anxiety described in Lenz (1984); the same anxiety described in Lagoe (2015) and many others (Baker, et. al. 1999) (Morahan-Martin 2004). Case (2005) stated, “An important aspect of Wilson's model is that it explicitly recognizes avoidance behaviors in its references to psychological literature on coping and stress,” (p. 357) finally bringing the field of Health Information Seeking into the classical studies of Information Seeking Behavior. This “psychological literature” (p.357) was in primary reference to the aforementioned Miller (1987) study. A testament to how far the field has come since Wilson (1981), Case (2005) and his research colleagues all in Information Science discusses Information Seeking Behavior as models to lead him to conclude that genetic testing should be encouraged for early detection of cancer with much information provided to the patient (Case 2005). Getting back to studying the Health Information Seeking Behavior of college students, the specific idea of Case (2005) and Lenz (1984) that patients should be well informed builds off of the research supporting that young people want to be informed and in control of their own medical destiny (Lipton 2013) (Cately 2018) (Sas 2019).
finally, no longer just summarized but actually expounded upon by Pang et. al. (2015). Rieh (2008) discusses how Savolinen (1995) relates to how college students can be skeptical of health information online (p. 53). Pang et. al. (2015) goes through the 4 main articles discussed here, Wilson (1981), Krikelas (1983), Kuhlthau (1991), and Savolainen (1995), and ties them all inextricably to the study of Health Information Seeking Behavior. For the purposes of this study, the Pang (2015) article will be the primary underpinnings of the methodology and theory of the work. Pang (2015) does not set out to set up a new model but instead wants to showcase the gaps in the literature from where the two fields ran parallel for so long. The main takeaway is that “most people seek online health
information because of health problems” (Pang et. al. 2015 Chapter 5).
Consequently, students’ Health Information Seeking Behavior most frequently occurs when they are “reacting to a health-related need” (Basch 2018, emphasis added). The most frequent first step that people will use when engaging in Health Information Seeking Behavior is that they will engage with a search engine first, most often Google (Pang et. al. 2015).
students find health information online and what tools they use. This type of research was the basis for this study.
Basch (2018) serves as the basis for this study due to its prominence as the most recent study which can be used to contrast against the data collected in this study. Basch (2018) based his survey design on a study done by Health
builds off of the research from other scholars such as Zhang (2012) who studied this phenomenon. Students on the whole have a skeptical reaction to most social media health information (Basch 2018) (Appendix 1). Another interesting tibit is that according to Basch (2018) “Non-white students were significantly more likely to often use the Internet to find health information, while white students reported spending significantly less time on the Internet and on social media” (p. 1097) which is backed by previous studies such as Escoffery et. al. (2005). The IFC fraternity men will not be asked about their internet habits in this study but will still be questioned on whether or not they believe social media holds relevant health information, something that Basch (2018) discovered was not the case amongst the males in his study (Appendix 1). As for studies that have observed specific populations relating to this one Davies et. al. (2000) studied specifically male college students and their internet usage regarding Health Information. Most studies such as Basch (2018), Escoffery et. al. (2005) and others when they survey and interview college students, do a general survatory study. Davies et al. (2000) studied men via 3 large interview groups with a wide variety of students from a variety of backgrounds. However, coming out in 2000, Davies et. al. as research is very outdated and will not influence this study very much. The internet has vastly changed how students do health research. Escoffery et. al. (2005) worked on a general study about the internet usage of students as it related to health
wanted (p. 187). There were 309 males surveyed in the study but not many things were extrapolated from solely their data (Escoffery et. al. 2005). The Health Information Seeking Behavior of college students have been studied in a wide variety of cultures such as Taiwan, Nigeria, and Iran, yet there are not many studies for United States Universities (Hsu, et. al. 2014) (Obasola et. al., 2016) (Gavazangi, et. al. 2013). Another popular subsect is studying medical students and seeing what health information usage and search strategies they use (Dastani, et. al. 2019) (Dee, et al. 2005). Despite this wide variety of population studies there are not many studies that study specifically male undergraduate students.
Specific populations studies have had some notable research which has advanced the Health Information Seeking Behavior field, such as the influential 1997 study by Claudia Gollop about older urban African American women and their Health Information Seeking Behavior which is a very well cited piece of literature. Relating to fraternities, there has been some recent research done on the Health Information Seeking Behavior of Latino fraternity men in historically Latino fraternities (Chavarria, et. al. 2017). Both of these articles are periphery to my IFC Fraternity study; however, this showcases that this is hardly the first time anyone has attempted a specific population study about Health Information Seeking Behavior.
population studied in Basch (2018) and others for their HISB? Do the UNC Fraternity men use the internet more than a primary care doctor? How often do the students follow up on that information? What online sources, if any, do they use? There will be questions regarding how often the internet is utilized for HISB, the amount of time that the fraternity members spend online, as well as basic demographic information. With all of this information an answer can be found to the pressing research question of this study: What is the Health Information Seeking Behavior of IFC Fraternity Men in two southeastern universities?
As the previous chapter indicated, Information Seeking Behavior is a well-studied area but the Health Information Seeking Behavior of college-age men less so. This study addresses these gaps in our understanding by asking how
specifically a group of men go about engaging in HISB. The primary information gathering tool was a survey sent out to all IFC chapters currently operating on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the University of Lynchburg
campuses. The study was approved by the University of North Carolina IRB (#19-3162). With an anonymous survey, issues with data breaches were minimal, but proper measures were taken to ensure that there was no identifying
information in the survey. Why do a survey at all?
College Students Health Information Seeking Behavior. A large number of students can be surveyed which can allow for a large general net to be cast. Some successful studies, such as the Britt et. al. (2018) study, had over 400 students respond to their survey requests about student health. Surveys allow for anonymous responses without the hassle of setting up interview times. Likert scales are the typical methodology for delivering questions about Health Information to college students.
The survey was created on Qualtrics and featured 14 questions. The questions themselves meet the standards for surveys put forth by David De Vaus (2013) in his latest edition of Surveys of Social Research. The survey was sent out via a link. An email was drafted and sent to the Inter-Fraternity Council of both schools, as well as both school’s Greek Life Advisor. That email was forwarded to all chapter presidents who sent them out to their chapters. Participants within the study are assumed to be a member of an IFC Fraternity and identify as male or a nonbinary member within the chapter. The survey itself was broken up into 4 sections with preference being on a shorter survey for ease of completion.
basis for this study due to its prominence as the most recent study which can be used to contrast against the data collected in this study. Basch (2018) based his survey design on a study done by Health Information National Trends Survey in 2017. The HINTs (2017) survey was about Cancer patients and Basch (2018) states that “Select items pertaining to HISB were adapted” (p. 1095). Contrasting the Basch (2018) study there were no questions discussing anyone not identifying as male. There were questions about how much users trust internet sources and social media sources the user uses as well as expanding the field relating to the role of social media in Health Information Seeking Behavior. There were certain questions which related solely to the fraternity experience. The fraternity men were asked if they hold an executive board or officer position within the chapter as well as the time they have spent in the chapter. There was also a question about how privilege could impact their access to health resources. There were several study specific questions that built off of the idea that members could talk amongst themselves about health issues.
The third section of the survey was where the Internet Information Feasibility section within Basch (2018) was modified to be tailored for both universities. Instead of focusing primarily on the usability of the information found, questions were centered around the fraternity experience at UNC. The selection was still entitled “When searching health or medical issues on the Internet, how likely are you to…” (p. 1096) like Basch (2018), and the first two questions were the same, however, the other questions were shortened or removed for the sake of time. One of the most important questions which build upon the field, “Share the information you find with family or friends without checking its accuracy” (p. 1095) was changed to ‘...you find with brothers...’ (Basch, 2018). “Confirm the information you find with a health or medical professional” (p. 1095) was unchanged to see if Fraternity Males have a more question intensive relationship with a doctor then the males in the original study (Basch, 2018). An original question, “How likely are you to trust Health
information sent by a brother?” is included at the end of the section with a 7 point
population male students (Basch, 2018). Following Basch’s (2018) methodology the same Likert scale was utilized. Differing from the Basch (2018) study, I also added specific social media platforms, such as Facebook to see if there were any specific issues with trustworthiness.
Data Collection and Analysis
The data itself from the survey was collected via Qualtrics automatically. One of the primary things being tested for was whether or not Fraternity Men used these online resources at the same levels as their non-affiliated male counterparts as covered in Basch (2018). My alternative hypothesis was that Fraternity Men at UNC and the University Of Lynchburg use the resources at the same level as their unaffiliated counterparts in the Basch (2018) study. Our null hypothesis was that the fraternity men could use the resources less or more than other male students. Charts were generated by Qualtrics and are reported below. The responses were grouped based on how they answered through any significant populations or statistics that arose. The percentage of students who fit in each category was also stated.
Table 1- Demographics
By year classification, there were 13 freshmen, 2 sophomores, 9 juniors, and 4 seniors. Going by age range: 10 of the respondents were 18 years old, 3 were 19 years old, 6 were 20 years old, 8 were 21 years old, and 1 was 22 years old. The correspondents were in their chapters from anywhere from 1 semester to 3 years. Business was the most popular school for majors with 8 respondents being business majors, 3 being Business Administration, and 3 being pre-business. Following that there were 2 advertising majors, 2 Math majors, 1 history major, 1 sports administration major, 1 biology major and 1 computer science major. Thirteen respondents were on executive board positions within their fraternities.
Following that question, the respondents were asked to state how often they searched specific health information resources in their day to day life or when a need for health information was identified. Respondents could select one per question. All 28 respondents answered this question, but 1 did not answer the last 3 options. Results are demonstrated in Table 2.
Table 2- Frequency of Sources Used For Health Information When asked about the most used website that respondents used when looking for Health Information, out of the 28 responses, 8 respondents said they used Google to “Google” the symptoms and picked the first one that popped up in the search history. Of the remaining respondents, 8 respondents said they used WebMD, 3 said Mayoclinic.org and 1 said they did not know. Eight respondents did not answer this question.
information with their brothers without checking its accuracy. The results are shown in Table 3.
Table 3- Likelihood Of Sources Being Searched
Table 5- Accuracy Of Social Media Sources
The final question discussed what the level of financial and healthcare access the respondents thought they had. Out of 28 respondents, 13 said they had very high levels of access, 10 said they had high access, 3 said they had moderate access, and 2 said they had low levels of access.
This is demonstrated in Table 6.
Fraternity men in this study used the internet more than other sources which correlates with the general findings and conclusions of the Basch (2018),, Cately (2018), Britt (2017) and Bhandri (2014) and studies of college-aged students in general. Overall the fraternity men were as fluent in their Health Information Seeking Behavior as the general student population. The fraternity men did not trust social media as much as the nonaffiliated males in the Basch (2018) study with 47% of the fraternity men saying that they thought it was very inaccurate / inaccurate. This is correlated with other studies done on the subject, such as Destani (2019) and Basch (2018) which shows that college students do not think social media is a valid source of health information. Only two out of twenty-eight respondents thought that it was an accurate source of health information. Similarly, to the males in the Basch (2018) study, the males in this study had similar rates of not using books / newspapers to gain health information both being less than 30% of respondents.
sometimes / often / always. Not only were the fraternity men more likely to rate information found from one or more web sources as being accurate or very accurate compared to the general male population, but across the board they trusted and used the internet more than the general male population found in the Basch (2018) study did with at least 94% stating they used the internet at least sometimes for health information. Only 1 respondent said they rarely used the internet for health information seeking behavior.
The fraternity men were also more likely to check more than one source to confirm the health information than the men found in the Basch (2018) study. There was no correlation between the 1 biology major and their health
information seeking behavior compared to the other respondents. Forty-four% of the male respondents in the Basch (2018) study were likely to go to a healthcare provider sometimes/often/always to confirm the healthcare information they found, compared to the fraternity men, 77% of them were likely to confirm the health information with a healthcare provider. This could mean that the fraternity men have more time and ability to confirm their healthcare information with what could be a costly doctor’s visit. This correlates with the increased levels of
financial and healthcare access the respondents stated they had. 23 out of the 28 stated that they had very high or high access to healthcare resources.
relating to Table 5 with “Very Inaccurate” appearing twice as an option. There may be some recall bias after asking subjects to recall their subconscious systematic way of searching for health information online. Future studies could ask participants what websites they use if the students’ internet usage remains the same. The Basch study (2018) also may have had fraternity men in the study but they were not noted as such. Many studies do not differentiate between white males and other college educated males so there was no study which specifically studied a population like the one covered in this study.
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