Internet use, online health information seeking behavior and electronic health literacy among dental auxiliary personnel in Malaysia

Zaberi, Zarikh Hafizah Saqina and Nor, Nor Azlida Mohd and Nazari, Nor Shafina Mohamed and Baharuddin, Nor Adinar (2022) Internet use, online health information seeking behavior and electronic health literacy among dental auxiliary personnel in Malaysia. Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, 53 (5). pp. 497-512. ISSN 0125-1562,

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Dental auxiliary personnel are a source of health information for their customers, so they need to be able to access appropriate health information in a timely manner through the internet (eHealth literacy). In this study we aimed to determine the online health information-seeking behavior, eHealth literacy, and factors associated with eHealth literacy among dental auxiliary personnel (dental therapists, dental technologists and dental surgery assistants) in Pahang, Malaysia in order to determine if this group is prepared to educate their patients appropriately. The study was conducted during February-April 2021. Study subjects were randomly sampled from all working government dental auxiliary personnel in the study area during the study period and asked to participate in the study. Those on maternity or sick leave were excluded from the study. The minimum number of study subjects determined to be needed for the study was 358. An additional 98 subjects were included to cover for missing information. Each study subject was asked to complete an online questionnaire asking about demographic data, internet access and use, online health-seeking behavior, perceived overall and oral health and an eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS) study instrument evaluating eHealth literacy. The completed instrument had a possible score of 8-40 points. For the purpose of this study, a score >= 26 was defined as the subject having good health literacy and < 26 as having poor health literacy. Data were analyzed using descriptive, ANOVA and Kruskal-Wallis tests. A total of 456 subjects completed the study instrument and were included in the study: 76.3% (n = 348) female. The mean (+/- standard deviation (SD)) age of study subjects were 36.3 (+/- 7.6) years. The subjects were comprised of 53.5% (n = 244) dental surgery assistants, 31.1% (n = 142) dental therapists and 15.4% (n = 70) dental technologists. About half (55.9%) of subjects (n = 255) obtained their health information from other sources while the others obtained their health information through the internet and social media. The mean (+/- SD) eHealth literacy score among study subjects was 30.5 (+/- 3.9), which overall was considered to have good health literacy. Only 8.8% of subjects (n = 40) had poor eHealth literacy and 91.2% (n = 416) had good eHealth literacy. Some 11.6% of subjects (n = 53) lacked confidence in using online health information, 31.1% (n = 142) lacked skills in evaluating online health information and 5.9% (n = 27) had difficulty determining quality of online health resources. The factors significantly associated with good eHealth literacy (>= 26) were frequently searching the internet for health information (p < 0.001), the perception of the subject they had good health (p=0.003) and the perception of the subject they had good oral health (p=0.023). In summary, the proportion of subjects with good eHealth literacy in our study was high and was related to perceptions about their own overall and dental health. However, there is a need for eHealth literacy training in the study population to improve their ability to be a source for health information for their patients, especially among those who perceive their own overall health, and their dental health is not adequate. Further studies are needed to determine what type of program is necessary to improve this deficiency.

Item Type: Article
Funders: University of Malaya Dental Postgraduate Research Grant [DPRG/27/21]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Health literacy; eHEALS; Health information; Health-seeking behavior; Internet; Dental auxiliaries
Subjects: R Medicine
R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Divisions: Faculty of Dentistry
Depositing User: Ms. Juhaida Abd Rahim
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2023 02:05
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2023 02:05

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