Objectives: There has been a substantial increase in people with health conditions seeking health-related information online. The aim of this study was to examine the media usage by older adults with hearing loss.
Method: The study used a cross-sectional survey design. A total of 556 older adults with hearing loss (Hearing Tracker website users) completed the survey which was focused on (a) demographic information, (b) general electronic media usage (c) sources of hearing health information, and (d) social media use for hearing health information. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi square tests.
Results: When seeking hearing health care information the majority of the participants turned to the Internet (54%) followed by health professionals (34%) as the first response to their symptoms. Both these sources were also rated as the easiest means of obtaining hearing health information. The information from health care providers was rated as more reliable and important for decision making than that from the Internet. Facebook and YouTube were the most frequently used social media platforms with over 40% of the respondents using them ‘most of the time’ or ‘sometimes.’ All the social media platforms were rated less favorably than other sources for ease of finding information, reliability, and importance in decision making.
Conclusion: Older adults with hearing loss use various forms of electronic media for seeking hearing health information. They place the most trust on the information obtained from hearing health care professionals. These professionals need to be aware of the quality of information available on the Internet and social media sources in order to direct patients to credible sources.