Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Douglas W Roblin

Second Advisor

Ashli W Owen-Smith



Background: There is insufficient research about the health information seeking, access, and usage among immigrants to the United States, who, face health disparities associated with their immigrant status. Health-information seeking behaviors and attitudes, unique to immigrants, need to be considered as one set of factors contributing to health disparities.

Objective: This thesis focused on identifying differences in information seeking behaviors and attitudes between natal and immigrant US residents and the subset who had either themselves had been diagnosed with cancer or who had a family member diagnosed with cancer.

Methods/Analyses: Nationally representative Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) data (HINTS4Cycle 3), collected from a sample of respondents (N=3185) by mail between September and December 2013, was used for these analyses. Sample weights were applied during SAS data analysis to account for the complex survey design. Analyses assessed the frequencies of health information seeking behaviors and attitudes of natal versus immigrant US residents.

Results: Both natal and immigrant US residents indicated that the Internet was the most popular choice for seeking health or medical information (69.9% and 69.8%, respectively), with the next highest being doctor, healthcare provider, or cancer organization combined (14.3% and 17.1%, respectively). These differences in use of information sources were not significant. Both natal and immigrant US residents “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that they were frustrated (68.1% and 65.8%, respectively) and were concerned about the quality of the information (52.9% and 54.8%, respectively) during the last time they searched for health information. Again, these differences in attitudes toward information were not significant.

On the other hand, compared to natal US residents, immigrant US residents were more likely to state that their most recent search took a lot of effort (35.2% and 46.1%, respectively, p=.01). There were also moderate and significant differences between natal and immigrant respondents’ trust toward information from government health agencies (69.3% and 81.3%, respectively, p

About one-third (30.2%) of immigrant US residents reported that they spoke English “not well” or “not well at all.” Among the immigrant US residents, the Internet was the source most commonly chosen by both groups (Speak English “very well,” or “well” and speak English “not well” or “not at all”) as the source they went to first during their most recent search for health or medical information (78.1% and 45.8%, respectively, p

Conclusions: There are important differences between Internet-related health information seeking behaviors and attitudes of natal US residents and immigrant US residents.