Analysis of college students' personal health information activities: Online survey

Sujin Kim, Donghee Sinn, Sue Yeon Syn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: With abundant personal health information at hand, individuals are faced with a critical challenge in evaluating the informational value of health care records to keep useful information and discard that which is determined useless. Young, healthy college students who were previously dependents of adult parents or caregivers are less likely to be concerned with disease management. Personal health information management (PHIM) is a special case of personal information management (PIM) that is associated with multiple interactions among varying stakeholders and systems. However, there has been limited evidence to understand informational or behavioral underpinning of the college students' PHIM activities, which can influence their health in general throughout their lifetime. Objective: This study aimed to investigate demographic and academic profiles of college students with relevance to PHIM activities. Next, we sought to construct major PHIM-related activity components and perceptions among college students. Finally, we sought to discover major factors predicting core PHIM activities among college students we sampled. Methods: A Web survey was administered to collect responses about PHIM behaviors and perceptions among college students from the University of Kentucky from January through March 2017. A total of 1408 college students were included in the analysis. PHIM perceptions, demographics, and academic variations were used as independent variables to predict diverse PHIM activities using a principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical regression analyses (SPSS v.24, IBM Corp, Armonk, NY, USA). Results: Majority of the participants were female (956/1408, 67.90%), and the age distribution of this population included an adequate representation of college students of all ages. The most preferred health information resources were family (612/1408, 43.47%), health care professionals (366/1408, 26.00%), friends (27/1408, 1.91%), and the internet (157/1408, 11.15%). Organizational or curatorial activities such as Arranging, Labeling, Categorizing, and Discarding were rated low (average=3.21, average=3.02, average=2.52, and average=2.42, respectively). The PCA results suggested 3 components from perception factors labeled as follows: Assistance (alpha=.85), Awareness (alpha=.716), and Difficulty (alpha=.558). Overall, the Demographics and Academics variables were not significant in predicting dependent variables such as Labeling, Categorizing, Health Education Materials, and Discarding, whereas they were significant for other outcome variables such as Sharing, Collecting, Knowing, Insurance Information, Using, and Owning. Conclusions: College years are a significant time for students to learn decision-making skills for maintaining information, a key aspect of health records, as well as for educators to provide appropriate educational and decision aids in the environment of learning as independent adults. Our study will contribute to better understand knowledge about specific skills and perceptions for college students' practice of effective PHIM throughout their lives.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere132
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Sujin Kim, Donghee Sinn, Sue Yeon Syn.


  • Health information management
  • Health records
  • Personal
  • Student health services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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