Background: Today the internet is a major source of health information, and younger generations have more confidence in their digital information seeking skills and awareness of online resources than older generations. Older generations, however, are more in demand of health services. The aim of our study was to explore these generational differences as related to self-perceived eHealth literacy and health care system utilization. Methods: A cross-sectional survey study with 522 subjects was done in Hungary. Every subject belonged to one of four generations (Baby boomers, X, Y, and Z). The Web-based survey was designed and tested in English-speaking countries and translated into Hungarian for the present study. Variables include Internet health information seeking, eHealth literacy (measured by eHeals score), the self-perceived gain in empowerment by that information, and the number of health care appointments. One-way ANOVA was used for comparing the scores of the generations, and correlational and linear regression analysis was employed within the generations for further data analysis. Results: We found significant differences among the generations in eHealth literacy as well as in the self-perceived gain in empowerment: while Boomers were the generation with the lowest eHeals scores, they showed the highest empowerment. Internet health information seeking behavior showed no differences. While subjects who use the Internet more frequently to search for health information have worse self-rated health status, the ones with higher eHeals scores report better subjective health status. We also identified the associations of the above variables within the older generations (Boomers and X) with the frequency of using health-care services: within the generation of Boomers the number of health care appointments was only associated with Internet health information seeking, while in Generation X with eHeals. Conclusions: Baby boomers seek Internet health information as often as the younger generations, which provides a solid motivation for developing their eHealth literacy skills. We find it crucial to plan the Hungarian health promotion programmes utilizing this high frequency of Internet health information seeking, since the eHealth literacy skills of older generations have an effect on their subjective health status, and they are the most capable of applying information in making decisions.
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© Copyright © 2021 Papp-Zipernovszky, Horváth, Schulz and Csabai.
- eHealth literacy
- health empowerment
- internet health information seeking