UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Health information practices of young parents Greyson, Devon


Despite societal investment in providing health information to young parents, little is known about the health information practices of young parents themselves. This constructivist grounded theory study investigates the health information practices of young mothers and fathers (age 16-23) in Greater Vancouver, Canada. Data was collected over 16 months via individual interviews with 39 young parents (37 mothers, 2 fathers) and observations at young parent programs. Inductive analysis was iterative with data collection. Young parent health information practices emerged, clustering around concepts of information seeking, assessment, and use, with sharing conceptualized as a form of use. Many young parents were sophisticated information seekers, and most were highly networked using mobile technology. While access to information was rarely a barrier, assessment of the large quantity of health-related information posed challenges. These findings are not generalizable to all populations. Newly-identified information seeking practices such as defensive and subversive seeking should be explored further in future research. Rather than focusing on quantity of information, health and information professionals trying to reach young parents should focus on fostering information literacy skills and building relationships as trusted information providers. Young parent experiences of social marginalization influenced their information practices and should be taken into consideration. This first investigation of young parent information practices can guide services and resources for young parents, suggests that sharing might be conceptualized as a subset of use, and highlights new information seeking practices by marginalized individuals, such as defensive and subversive seeking.

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