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Revista Española de Salud Pública

versão On-line ISSN 2173-9110versão impressa ISSN 1135-5727


MARINA OCANA, Joaquín  e  FELIZ MURIAS, Tiberio. Perceptions and Subjects about the Information and Education for Health in Virtual Environments in Spanish. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2018, vol.92, e201808022.  Epub 02-Ago-2018. ISSN 2173-9110.


The appropriation of digital technology in knowledge applied to health should promote a proactive attitude in the persons, training them in the search for information, the management of their health care, and the health of their social context and environment. The objective of this work was to know and analyse, in relation to the information searches and education for health in Spanish virtual environments, the access features, the users’ perceptions and experiences, the degree of easiness or difficulty perceived by themselves, and their causes, as well as their topics of interest to suggest improvements.


An ex post facto empirical research was carried out, with a combined quantitative, qualitative design, through a self-completed online questionnaire with simple random distribution among internet healthcare users, students, professors, and staff from Spanish universities. The personal profile of the survey respondents, the access features, the difficulties met, and the search topics were investigated. We have used measures of descriptive and inferential statistics, as Kramer’s V and contingency coefficient, to investigate the differences between groups of the surveyed population. The influence of sex and age on the answers was studied.


The study was performed on 998 responses, which suppose a response rate of 9.56%. Internet users surveyed used digital environments in searches for health in 99.8% of the 974 valid responses, varying the technology used and social media according to age, and 57.1% of 965 responses considered easy and very easy to obtain information, and 35.6% of 922 responses used it for education searches. The offer of information for health, with 655 responses, was considered ample, but presented doubts about quality and reliability for 87.4%, while the health education, less demanded, with 196 responses, was rated as more reliable, but presented quality doubts for 32.7%. 27.6% considered a scarce offer and 16.8% found difficulties to access. Regarding the searched topics, the most frequent among 945 responses were in relation to the vital stages, the disease or the syndromes, and the tests, related to themselves or relatives, with 22,0% of searches, followed of the search category “healthy life” with 18.8%. Little dependence was found among the studied categories related to Internet searches with respect to gender and age, except for the age in relation to the categories of “access technology”, and “social media”.


The growing use of the Internet in the search for information and education for health could influence patients, relatives, and caregivers in relation to care and self-care, as well as in the relationship with the health system and its professionals. The searches find important difficulties, as in Information for health, doubtful reliability, low quality contents, and infoxication; while in Education for health, they refer difficulty to access and doubtful reliability.

Palavras-chave : Patient education; Knowledge management; Health promotion; Public Health; e-patient; Information for health.

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