Digital Health Literacy and Information-Seeking in the Era of COVID-19: Gender Differences Emerged from a Florentine University Experience

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  • Guglielmo Bonaccorsi
  • Veronica Gallinoro
  • Andrea Guida
  • Chiara Morittu
  • Valerio Ferro Allodola
  • Vieri Lastrucci
  • Patrizio Zanobini
  • Orkan Okan
  • Kevin Dadaczynski
  • Chiara Lorini

Gender appears to be a strong predictor of online health information-seeking behaviour (OHISB), which is related to Digital Health Literacy (DHL). Gender differences in OHISB have been studied in different countries with different results, but no studies have investigated gender-specific OHISB among University students during the COVID-19 pandemic. We sought to investigate any gender differences in OHISB in the period between the first and second waves of the pandemic in Italian university students. A questionnaire developed by the global COVID-HL network, including existing and adapted validated scales and self-developed scales, was administered to 2996 University students in Florence. Gender differences were tested using the χ2 test or the Mann–Whitney U test. Male students reported a higher score in DHL than females (p < 0.001). However, female students seek COVID-19 information more often on different sources (for themselves and other people), on various topics, consider various aspects of information quality to be “very important’’ (p < 0.05) and are more likely to be “often dissatisfied’’ or ”partly satisfied’’ with information (p < 0.001). Our study confirmed gender as an important dimension to explain students’ OHISB differences, which could help institutions promote gender-specific education programmes and provide gender-oriented health information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2611
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the University of Florence.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, Digital Health Literacy, gender differences, online health information seeking behaviour
  • Health sciences