Odds of Meeting Cancer Prevention Behavior Recommendations by Health Information Seeking Behavior: a Cross-Sectional HINTS Analysis


People who seek health information frequently may be more likely to meet health behavior goals; however, people use many different information sources. The purpose of this paper is to assess how different sources of health information influence likelihood of meeting cancer prevention behavior guidelines. Logistic regression of cross-sectional data from 6 years of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) was conducted. Independent variables included first source of health information, gender, age, race, education level, income, cancer history, general health, and data year; dependent variables were fruit and vegetable intake, exercise, smoking, mammography, Pap test, and colon cancer screening. Those who seek health information from doctors, the internet, or publications had higher odds of meeting more cancer prevention guidelines than those who do not seek health information. Those who used healthcare providers as an initial information source had higher odds of meeting diet, cervical, and colon cancer screening recommendations, while using the internet as an initial source of health information was associated with higher odds of meeting diet, smoking, and colon cancer screening recommendations. No health information source was associated with meeting either exercise or mammography recommendations. People should be encouraged to seek health information to help them meet their behavior goals, especially from sources that are more likely to be accurate and encourage cancer prevention behavior. Future research is needed to understand the accuracy of health information and what kinds of health information have positive influences on cancer prevention behavior.

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Data Availability Statement

This study uses publicly available data from the National Cancer Institute at hints.cancer.gov.


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Correspondence to Christine M. Swoboda.

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Swoboda, C.M., Walker, D.M. & Huerta, T. Odds of Meeting Cancer Prevention Behavior Recommendations by Health Information Seeking Behavior: a Cross-Sectional HINTS Analysis. J Canc Educ 36, 56–64 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-019-01597-0

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  • Health information seeking
  • Cancer screening
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cross-sectional