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Keywords

African American women; Health education; Health information; Identity (Psychology); Information behavior; Internet research

Abstract

Qualitative research methods were used to examine the role of racial, cultural, and socio-economic group (i.e., communal) identities on perceptions of barriers and control related to traditional and internet resources for seeking health information. Eighteen lower income, African American women participated in training workshops on using the internet for health, followed by two focus groups. Transcripts were analyzed using standardized coding methods. Results demonstrated that participants perceived the internet as a tool for seeking health information, which they believed would empower them within formal healthcare settings. Participants invoked racial, cultural, and socio-economic identities when discussing barriers to seeking health information within healthcare systems and the internet. The findings indicate that the internet may be a valuable tool for accessing health information among lower income African American women if barriers are reduced. Recommendations are made that may assist health providers in improving health information seeking outcomes of African American women.