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eHealth Literacy, Online Help-Seeking Behavior, and Willingness to Participate in mHealth Chronic Disease Research Among African Americans, Florida, 2014–2015
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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:

    The high rate of ownership of smartphones among African Americans provides researchers with opportunities to use digital technologies to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases in this population. This study aimed to assess the association between eHealth literacy (EHL) and access to technology, health information–seeking behavior, and willingness to participate in mHealth (mobile health) research among African Americans.


    A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 881 African American adults from April 2014 to January 2015 in north central Florida. EHL was assessed by using the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS) with higher scores (range, 8–40) indicating greater perceived skills at using online health information to help solve health problems.


    Overall eHEALS scores ranged from 8 to 40, with a mean of 30.4 (standard deviation, 7.8). The highest score was for the item “I know how to find helpful health resources on the Internet,” and the lowest score was for “I can tell high quality from low quality health resources on the Internet.” Most respondents owned smartphones (71%) and searched online for health information (60%). Most were also willing to participate in health research that used text messages (67%), smartwatches/health tracking devices (62%), and health apps (57%). We found significantly higher eHEALS scores among women, smartphone owners, those who use the Internet to seek health information, and those willing to participate in mHealth research (P < .01 for all).


    Most participants owned smartphones, used the Internet as a source of information, and were willing to participate in mHealth research. Opportunities exist for improving EHL and conducting mHealth research among African Americans to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases.

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