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Online health information in a rural residential population in Zhejiang Province, China: a cross-sectional study
  1. Yan Qiu,
  2. Wen Ren,
  3. Ying Liu,
  4. Pei Yin,
  5. Jingjing Ren
  1. The First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jingjing Ren; 3204092{at}


Objective To determine the prevalence, degree of trust and usefulness of the online health information seeking source and identify associated factors in the adult population from the rural region of China.

Design A cross-sectional population-based study.

Setting A self-designed questionnaire study was conducted between May and June 2015 in four districts of Zhejiang Province.

Participants 652 adults aged ≥18 years (response rate: 82.8%).

Primary outcome measures The prevalence, degree of trust and usefulness of online health information was the primary outcome. The associated factors were investigated by χ2 test.

Results Only 34.8% of participants had faith in online health information; they still tended to select and trust a doctor which is the first choice for sources of health information. 36.7% of participants, being called ‘Internet users’, indicated that they had ever used the internet during the last 1 year. Among 239 internet users, 40.6% of them reported having sought health information via the internet. And 103 internet users responded that online health information was useful. Inferential analysis demonstrated that younger adults, individuals with higher education, people with a service-based tertiary industry career and excellent health status used online health information more often and had more faith in it (p<0.001).

Conclusions Using the internet to access health information is uncommon in the rural residential adult population in Zhejiang, China. They still tend to seek and trust health information from a doctor. Internet as a source of health information should be encouraged.

  • trust
  • internet
  • health information seeking
  • doctor

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  • Contributors YQ conducted the conception and design of research, analysed the data, and drafted the first version of the manuscript. WR, YL and PY contributed to the revision of the manuscript. JR had primary responsibility for the final content of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was supported by the National Scientific and Technological Major Project of China (2017ZX10105001) and Clinical Research Project of Zhejiang Medical Association (2017ZYC-A11).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The Ethics Committee of the First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Zhejiang University.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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