Despite societal investment in providing health information to young parents, little is known about the health information practices of young parents themselves. The purpose of this paper is to explore young parents’ health information practices in context.
This constructivist grounded theory study investigates the health information practices of young mothers and fathers (age 16-23) in Greater Vancouver, Canada. Data were collected over 16 months via individual interviews with 39 young parents (37 mothers, 2 fathers) and observations at young parent programs. Inductive analysis was iterative with data collection.
Young parent health information practices emerged, clustering around concepts of information seeking, assessment, and use, with sharing conceptualised as a form of use. Many young parents were sophisticated information seekers, and most were highly networked using mobile technology. While access to information was rarely a barrier, assessment of the large quantity of health-related information posed challenges.
These findings are not generalisable to all populations. Newly identified information-seeking practices such as defensive and subversive seeking should be explored further in future research.
Rather than focusing on quantity of information, health and information professionals trying to reach young parents should focus on fostering information literacy skills and building relationships as trusted information providers.
Young parent experiences of social marginalisation influenced their information practices and should be taken into consideration.
This first investigation of young parent information practices can guide services and resources for young parents, suggests that sharing might be conceptualised as a subset of use, and highlights new information-seeking practices by marginalised individuals, such as defensive and subversive seeking.
The author thanks Drs Jean Shoveller, Joy Johnson, and Heather O’Brien for their supervision of this research. This work was funded by Vanier Canada and by Canadian Institutes of Health Research grants MOP-201209 and GIR-201212.
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