YouTube: An Effective Web 2.0 Informing Channel for Health Education to Prevent STDs

By Prybutok, Gayle | Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, Annual 2013 | Go to article overview

YouTube: An Effective Web 2.0 Informing Channel for Health Education to Prevent STDs


Prybutok, Gayle, Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline


Introduction

The successful delivery of accurate, timely, and relevant health information that promotes knowledge acquisition and behavior change in targeted populations is a primary goal for public health educators (Valencia, Kingston, Nakamura, Rosenfield, & Schwartz, 2004). Health educators have recently identified social media as viable health-informing channel for young adults, ages 18-24 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011). These users are already using YouTube and other social media venues for entertainment, social engagement, relaxation, and information exchange (Hordemann & Chao, 2012; Jones & Fox, 2009). Health educators must determine if these users view YouTube and its associated video content as a viable health-informing channel. This study seeks to answer two research questions. First, this work will test whether or not YouTube, an Internet based social media informing channel, can deliver safe sex/condom use information designed to facilitate knowledge acquisition in a population of 18-24 year old users. Second, this work assesses whether an entertaining or factual message delivery format for the same content results in a different level of knowledge acquisition.

In the 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report (CDC, 2010), the CDC revealed that there are an estimated 19 million new sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections each year. The financial impact to the United States' healthcare system is $17 billion per year, and STDs bring immediate and lifelong consequences to infected individuals. "Young people represent 25% of the sexually experienced population in the United States, but account for nearly half of new STDs" (CDC, 2010, p. 1). Clearly, 18-24 year old users can benefit from education about safe sex. Yet often, this at risk population does not intentionally seek information about safe sex (Singhai & Rogers, 2002). This is true for several reasons. First, the media often casts sexual activity as spontaneous and unplanned (Yu, 2010), which is not consistent with seeking information. Also, as young, healthy adults, people this age do not usually consider themselves at risk. They frequently have no interest in learning about risks associated with unprotected sex, or if sexually active, might use a form of birth control that does not include a barrier because they are not cognizant of the associated health risks (Singhai & Rogers, 2002).

The purpose of this study is to test the viability of using YouTube as a health-informing channel to facilitate knowledge acquisition about safe sex/condom use for young adults, ages 18 to 24. The study specifically examines two issues: the viability of using YouTube as an informing channel for health education, and the differences in 18-24 year old viewer knowledge acquisition based on the type of YouTube safe sex video message (factual vs. entertaining) provided. Arroyave (2008) reported that Education Entertainment (E-E) is defined as intentionally embedding important health information in a media message in order to educate viewers and encourage risk reduction or disease prevention behaviors. Arroyave reported that E-E does this successfully in the United States and in over 50 other countries. Both factual and entertaining message formats deliver relevant and memorable information aimed at provoking healthy sexual behaviors. It is important to examine and quantify whether users in this age group absorb and retain the same health education content presented on YouTube, and whether retention differences exist based on an entertaining message delivery format or a factual one. The data collected in this study will help health educators to present important information successfully about health maintenance and disease prevention using a message delivery format and social media venue that most effectively engages 18-24 year old users. This study will also help to quantify which message delivery format best facilitates knowledge acquisition, retention and future healthy behavior change. …

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