Assessing the use of the Internet for health purposes among students at the University of Ghana
The Internet, given its availability and affordability, is increasingly being used for different purposes, including health-related purposes. In this context, the Internet serves as a medium for people to interact frequently with the health care professionals, access health information online, and form and participate in online support groups. Yet, the extant literature has focused mostly on the use of the Internet for health purposes in developed countries. To bridge this gap and to ascertain the utility of the Internet for health purposes in developing countries, a cross-sectional survey was conducted involving 363 students at the University of Ghana, using self-reported methodology. The study revealed that all the participants reported to use the Internet for health purposes. Particularly, the study found evidence that the participants use the Internet to seek for information online, interact with health professionals, engage in social support and group communication via popular social networks-Facebook and WhatsApp. Interestingly, the study also found that the majority of the participants own two or more electronic devices, used to access the Internet. More so, the availability of the Internet on campus, and easy access, motivated participants to use it. While the majority of the participants had indicated that they acquired knowledge and changed their lifestyle after accessing health information online, few had stated otherwise. The general implication of the study is that the use of the Internet for health purposes is not limited to developed countries. Government and policy makers in Ghana can make use of the Internet to provide relevant health information and services. The extent of the Internet usage raises the optimism that geographical and physical barriers to seeking health care information can be overcome. The findings are briefly discussed and also, the implications of the findings for promoting access to health information discussed.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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