Socioeconomic Status and Health Communication Inequalities in Taiwan: A Nationwide Survey

TitleSocioeconomic Status and Health Communication Inequalities in Taiwan: A Nationwide Survey
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Chen, Y. - N. K.
Affiliation (1st Author)National Chengchi University, Taiwan
Section or WGHealth Communication and Change Working Group
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeCHAT4a
Slot Code (Keyword)CHAT4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleSocial Determinants: Gender and Power Issues in HIV/AIDS and Health
Submission ID4724

The Structural Influence Model (SIM) has proposed communication inequality to be one of the mechanisms linking SES and health inequalities (Viswanath, Ramanadhan, & Kontos, 2007). According to this model, differences in health and preventive behaviors among different social groups may be partly explained by focusing on how social determinants of health, such as income, education, and employment are related to health communication outcomes – how people access, seek, process, and act on heath information (Viswanath, & Ackerson, 2011). Previous research has suggested that SES is related to exposure and attention to, trust in, and use of health information, which is in turn related to health related behaviors such as fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, sun protection, and smoking. Therefore, an understanding of disparities in health communication outcomes may contribute to the development of communication strategies that could address health inequalities worldwide. As limited research on health communication inequalities has been conducted outside the United States, the purpose of this study is to use nationwide data from Taiwan to examine the relationship between SES and health communication outcomes, including health information seeking, and exposure to and trust in health information from various media. It is hoped that findings from our study will (a) better elucidate how health communication inequalities may link social determinants and health, (b) as a more readily addressable social determinant, may provide direction for intervention to address inequalities in Taiwan. To address these issues above, we conducted a national telephone survey. The sample includes Taiwanese residents aged 20 and above as the population, and, it is identified through the equiprobablility sampling method. The total sample size of this survey is 1,069, for a response rate of 27.20. Socio-demographic characteristics, subjective health status and health communication outcomes were measured. Socio-demographic variables included sex, age, education, household income, employment status, and marital status. Four dimensions of health communication outcomes were assessed: (1) exposure to health information sources; (2) health information seeking; (3) self-efficacy in seeking health information, and (4) trust in health information sources. Results showed that education, household income, and employment were significantly associated with health information seeking and self-efficacy. Socioeconomic status was not associated with exposure to and trust in health information from news media, but was significantly associated with health information from healthcare providers and the Internet. Health communication outcomes were patterned by socioeconomic status in Taiwan thus demonstrating the prevalence of health communication inequalities. Providing customized exposure to and enhancing the quality of health information by considering social determinants may contribute to addressing social disparities in health in Taiwan. Reference: Viswanath, K., Ramanadhan, S., & Kontos, E. Z. (2007) Mass media. In S. Galea(Ed.) , Macrosocial determinants of population health (pp. 275-294). New York: Springer. Viswanath, K., & Ackerson, L. K. (2011). Race, ethnicity, language, social class, and health communication inequalities: A nationally-representative cross-sectional study. PLoS One 18. 6(1): e14550.

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