Elderly People, Health Information, and Libraries: a Small-scale Study on Seniors in a Language Minority

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Abstract

Increased needs for information about health have been observed among elderly people, who constitute a growing group. This paper will present a small-scale study on elderly people and health-related information, and take a closer look at the role of libraries as a source. The study was conducted in order to test a questionnaire. The respondents are 65 years or older and belong to the small Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. The health information behaviour of the respondents is approached through the concept of health information literacy (HIL), meaning the abilities to recognize a need for health information, to identify and use likely information sources, and to evaluate, understand, and use the information in order to make good health decisions. Fifty-five self-administered questionnaires were distributed through a snowball-sampling method. Forty-six questionnaires were returned by mail. Descriptive statistics and a One-way ANOVA were used for the analysis. The results show that libraries and library staff were fairly little used, and even less as sources for health information. When the respondents needed health information, they usually turned to medical expertise. The HIL of the respondents seemed sufficient in some respects, but weaker in others. Needs were identified and sources chosen seemingly easily, but some problems were found in understanding. Also quality assessment seemed to be difficult for many respondents. There might, thus, be room for a broadening of the information environment of the respondents, as well as of other elderly seekers of health information. Enhancing people's (health) information literacy is often suggested to be the information profession's responsibility. As long as there is only little or no interaction between elderly people and libraries, this task is difficult, and more research is needed to find out how libraries could reach out to the growing group of elderly people.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)181–194
Number of pages14
JournalLibri
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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