Perceptions of online health information and eHealth literacy among first-generation Chinese immigrants: Findings from an Australian survey

Ling Zhang, Ding Ding, Lis Neubeck, Robyn Gallagher

Background: Online health information is increasingly popular. It may offer the opportunity to engage to ‘hard-to-reach’ populations, such as culturally and linguistically diverse populations. However, benefits depend on the individuals’ eHealth literacy. Little is known about eHealth literacy among Chinese immigrants.

Aims: The aim of this study was to explore perceptions of online health information, eHealth literacy and predictors in first-generation Chinese immigrants.

Methods: Chinese immigrants (≥18 years) born in the Greater China Region, living in Australia, were recruited from communities across New South Wales. The eHealth Literacy Scale was used to assess perceptions of online health information and eHealth literacy. Demographic and clinical data was collected by self-report.

Results: Participants (n=331) aged 59±16 years on average. The majority were female (69%) and rated their English proficiency as fair/poor (75%); 51% had completed university. Inadequate eHealth literacy was found in 46% of the participants. Online health information was perceived as useful (59%) and important (56%). The most accessed information concerned lifestyle (60%), followed by health resources (45%), diseases (35%), and medications (30%). Inadequate eHealth literacy was independently associated with an older age (OR:0.95; 95% CI: .93-.98), being female (OR:0.48; 95% CI:.26-.89), not completing university (OR:0.40; 95% CI:.23-.70), and inadequate health literacy (OR:0.56; 95% CI:.32-.97) after adjusting for other factors.

Conclusions: There is a strong potential to provide appropriate online health information for Chinese immigrants. However, attention must be paid to design to enable support for older people, women, and those with lower education, and low health literacy.