Disparities in Health Information Access: Results of a County-Wide Survey and Implications for Health Communication

Megan S. Kelley, Dejun Su, Denise H. Britigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Health knowledge and behavior can be shaped by the extent to which individuals have access to reliable and understandable health information. Based on data from a population-based telephone survey of 1,503 respondents of ages 18 years and older living in Douglas County, Nebraska, in 2013, this study assesses disparities in health information access and their related covariates. The two most frequently reported sources of health information are the Internet and health professionals, followed by print media, peers, and broadcast media. Relative to non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks are more likely to report health professionals as their primary source of health information (odds ratio [OR] = 2.61, p < .001) and less likely to report peers (OR = 0.39, p < .05). A comparison between Whites and Hispanics suggests that Hispanics are less likely to get their health information through the Internet (OR = 0.51, p < .05) and more likely to get it from broadcast media (OR = 4.27, p <.01). Relative to their counterparts, participants with no health insurance had significantly higher odds of reporting no source of health information (OR = 3.46, p <.05). Having no source of health information was also associated with an annual income below $25,000 (OR = 2.78, p <.05 compared to middle income range) and being born outside of the United States (OR = 5.00, p <.05). Access to health information is lowest among society’s most vulnerable population groups. Knowledge of the specific outlets through which people are likely to obtain health information can help health program planners utilize the communication channels that are most relevant to the people they intend to reach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-582
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 3 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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