Predicting and Empowering Health for Generation Z by Comparing Health Information Seeking and Digital Health Literacy: Cross-Sectional Questionnaire Study

Wen Jiao, Angela Chang, Mary Ho, Qianfeng Lu, Matthew Tingchi Liu, Peter Johannes Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Generation Z (born 1995-2010) members are digital residents who use technology and the internet more frequently than any previous generation to learn about their health. They are increasingly moving away from conventional methods of seeking health information as technology advances quickly and becomes more widely available, resulting in a more digitalized health care system. Similar to all groups, Generation Z has specific health care requirements and preferences, and their use of technology influences how they look for health information. However, they have often been overlooked in scholarly research. Objective: First, we aimed to identify the information-seeking preferences of older individuals and Generation Z (those between the ages of 18 and 26 years); second, we aimed to predict the effects of digital health literacy and health empowerment in both groups. We also aimed to identify factors that impact how both groups engage in digital health and remain in control of their own health. Methods: The Health Information National Trends Survey was adopted for further use in 2022. We analyzed 1862 valid data points by conducting a survey among Chinese respondents to address the research gap. A descriptive analysis, 2-tailed t test, and multiple linear regression were applied to the results. Results: When compared with previous generations, Generation Z respondents (995/1862, 53.44%) were more likely to use the internet to find out about health-related topics, whereas earlier generations relied more on traditional media and interpersonal contact. Web-based information-seeking behavior is predicted by digital health literacy (Generation Z: β=.192, P<.001; older population: β=.337, P<.001). While this was happening, only seeking health information from physicians positively predicted health empowerment (Generation Z: β=.070, P=.002; older population: β=.089, P<.001). Despite more frequent use of the internet to learn about their health, Generation Z showed lower levels of health empowerment and less desire to look for health information, overall. Conclusions: This study examined and compared the health information–seeking behaviors of Generation Z and older individuals to improve their digital health literacy and health empowerment. The 2 groups demonstrated distinct preferences regarding their choice of information sources. Health empowerment and digital health literacy were both significantly related to information-seeking behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere47595
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Journal of Medical Internet Research. All rights reserved.


  • Generation Z
  • digital health literacy
  • digitally savvy
  • health empowerment
  • health information seeking


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