Characteristics and Implications of Online & Mobile Health Information Use Among American Indians in Arizona

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Jana WILBRICHT, University of Michigan, USA
Angela GONZALES, Arizona State University, USA
Our presentation combines findings of two case studies, conducted in 2014 and 2016, on the use of online and mobile health information among residents of the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. Both case studies involved focus groups and a survey which was administered with focus group participants, which, although not representative of the community at large, does provide context for the focus group discussions. The Hopi – known for their cultural vitality – reside on a remote 1.6 million acre reservation, located in Northeastern Arizona, entirely surrounded by the Navajo Nation, the largest U.S. Indian Reservation, and more 60 miles from the nearest town. Like many Native American tribes, the Hopi experience some of the most severe health disparities in the U.S. We focus on barriers to health information access due to digital divides and cultural factors, as well as implications for health equity. Focus group and survey questions address health-related use of technologies such as search engines, e-mail, smartphone apps, texting, instant messaging, and social media, as well as devices used to access the Internet, types of health information searched for, confidence to find the information needed, etc. Key findings include very limited availability of fixed broadband and thus heavy reliance on smartphones to access the Internet, individuals with access functioning as information brokers for others in the community, and need-based rather than exploratory online searches for health information. Many participants also report difficulty selecting trustworthy online sources of health information, and are generally concerned about technology use which may violate Hopi cultural norms.