How Individual And Neighborhood Characteristics Relate To Health Topic Awareness And Information Seeking

Abstract [from journal]

Structural determinants of health like neighborhood are often overlooked in the context of understanding public awareness of health topics and health information seeking behaviors. Seeking health information is particularly relevant given that some communities have higher prevalence of disease than others. Using the Structural Influence Model of Health Communication (SIMHC), this paper examines how both individual and neighborhood level characteristics contribute to health communication outcomes such as being aware of health topics like cancer, obesity, and HIV, and whether or not individual seeking health-related information or coming across information in the course of their general media use. Respondents to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey (SEPa HHS), a county-stratified random sample of adults ages 18-75 years old, who completed the survey in 2015, were recontacted for participation in 2017. Over one-thousand respondents (n=1,005) completed the survey, and the final sample size for this analysis was 887. Individual level correlates included demographic factors and relevant lifestyle behaviors (e.g., smoking); neighborhood level variables- determined by ZIP Code- included such socioeconomic status (SES) measures as percent unemployed, percent with a high school education, and percent living in poverty. Multilevel modeling was used to determine whether there were random effects on the health communication outcomes of interest. Analyses showed our outcomes of interest did not vary across neighborhoods, whether they were treated as random or fixed effects. Different characterizations of neighborhood (e.g., census block group) and different indicators of neighborhood media environments may be more likely to demonstrate macro level effects on health communication outcomes.