1887

Abstract

I. The first comprehensive and large-scale investigation of Qatari teenagers' health-information and health-monitoring behavior is the basis of our paper. It presents an overview of the results. A survey of more than 1,100 Qataris, 13 to 20 years old, conducted in spring 2017, addressed which the health issues are they are most concerned about, how often they use various types of health-monitoring tools and communication platforms to seek health information, how satisfied they are with what they get through these platforms and tools, how much they trust health information channels, and whether they have ever attempted to change their behavior due to health information or digital health tools. Qatari adolescents face severe health problems. Qatar has the highest rate of overweight boys and young men under 20 years old (34 percent) in the Middle East and in North Africa (Ng et al., 2014). In 2014, according to Qatar's Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), 37 percent of Qatar's population aged 15 and above said that they smoke tobacco (Doha News, September 2014). And in his study of undergraduate students, Abdel-Khalek (2013) posits that mental health problems are also comparatively frequent in Qatar. Of course, Qatar has taken steps to address these health issues through a variety of national initiatives–from campaigns for a healthier diet to health apps. But do these measures in Qatar actually serve their purpose? II. So far, little evidence exists about health-information behavior in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) and, more specifically, in the Gulf, among adolescents: • Arnott-Smith and Keselman (2015) found that GCC residents of all ages “first seek information from conversations with physicians and hospital personnel, followed by family, friends, and knowledgeable elders and religious leaders in the community” (p. 174). • Similarly, 93 percent of respondents in Saudi Arabia first expected health information from their physicians (Al Ghamdi & Almohedib, 2011). • Also, interviews with Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) educators revealed that “the most common information sources about cancer in Qatar originate in advice from friends and family in addition to the patient's physician” (Arnott-Smith & Keselman, 2015, p. 173). These results could be explained through the Arab world's more relationship-based culture, instead of a rule-based one (Hooker, 2012). This means that social behavior is more strongly determined by one's family, peers and superiors. And in his classic work in 1984, Hofstede found a value system for the Arab world that is characterized, among other features, by masculinity and “power distance,” i.e., more hierarchical relationships. These cultural characteristics should indeed make personal health communication more successful. Also, a person's power and charisma could count more than their professional expertise. But interestingly, at least in Qatar, this plausible pattern is not as clear-cut as it looked for Qataris' information behavior specifically about cancer. Because for health information in general, a representative sample of Qataris in 2016 named Primary Health Care Centers (PHCCs) as the most frequently used health information source, followed by family, friends, and then the internet (especially among younger Qataris). Northwestern University's surveys “Media use in the Middle East” (2013, 2015) show that in 2015, almost half (45 percent) of Qatari internet users aged 18 to 24 years looked up health information (in the widest sense of the term) at least once a day–a sharp rise from 24 percent of that same group in 2013. In 2015, almost half (48 percent) of the same age cohort reported that their “most important source for health information” was websites; 31 percent named face-to-face personal communication, and only six percent mentioned television. Social media followed with five percent. III. The results of our large-scale study in 2017 show that young people in Qatar rely heavily on interpersonal sources of health information, including their parents, siblings, friends, and medical providers. Nevertheless, the vast majority of teens also turn to the internet for health information. Only television can compete, to some extent, with online sources. Finally, health campaigns in Qatar do not reach the younger Qatari demographic as often as one would hope. Many Qatari teens, however, have also turned to digital devices–apps and games–beyond online health information. Health trackers have not gained traction among teens. The internet most often serves as a tool for additional information about symptoms, treatments and medication. But it is also a pathway for accessing information that could have a negative impact on health. This is why our study underscores the importance of ensuring that accurate, appropriate, and easily accessible health information is available to teens online. But Qatari teens' naivety when it comes to posting about personal health problems is alarming as well–reasons for making sure teens have strong digital health literacy: They need the judgment and skills to know how to assess and deal with the abundance of information they come across online. References Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2013). The relationships between subjective well-being, health, and religiosity among young adults from Qatar. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 16, 306-318. Al Ghamdi, K. M. & Almohedib, A. M. (2011). Internet use by dermatology outpatients to search for health information. International Journal of Dermatology, 50,292-299. Arnott Smith, A., & Keselman, A. (2015). Meeting health information needs outside of healthcare: Opportunities and challenges. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Hofstede, G. (1984). Culture»s consequences: International differences in work-related values (2nd ed.). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Hooker, J. N. (2012). Cultural differences in business communication. In C. B. Paulston, S. F. Kiesling & E. S. Rangel (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural discourse and communication (pp. 389–407). Maladen, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Ng, M. et al. (2014). Global regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet, 384, 766-781. Northwestern University in Qatar (2013). Media use in the Middle East 2013.Doha, Qatar: Northwestern University in Qatar. Northwestern University in Qatar (2015). Media use in the Middle East 2015.Doha, Qatar: Northwestern University in Qatar.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2018.SSAHPP221
2018-03-15
2019-11-19
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2018.SSAHPP221
Loading
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error