Health information-seeking behavior among Congolese refugees

Elvis Longanga Diese, Eva Baker, Idara Akpan, Rushil Acharya, Amy Raines-Milenkov, Martha Felini, Arbaz Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine the extent to which Congolese refugees seek health information, to identify and assess the resources used while exercising Health Information-Seeking Behavior (HISB), and to identify individual determinants that affect their HISB. Methodology Building Bridges program participants who resided in Texas between 2017-2020, reported country of origin as Democratic Republic of Congo, and responded to HISB questions were included in this study. Four HISB questions asked about frequency seeking health information, preferred source and perceived trustworthiness of source, and frequency worrying about their health. Associations between HISB and sociodemographic factors (age, gender, education years, years in US, proficiency speaking English, marital status) were tested using Pearson chi-square or Fisher's exact tests (α≤0.05). Results Most participants (59%) reported seeking health information sometimes. Less than half (44%) of participants identified doctors as their preferred source of health information, Twenty-five percent relied on family, friends, and community leaders, and 23% used media sources. Doctors were identified as the most trustworthy source (71%), family and friends were the second highest trusted source (25%), whereas media sources were the least trusted (4%). Sociodemographic factors age (p = .02), gender (p < .01), and education years (p < .01) were the only significant predictors of preferred information sources. Conversely, those residing in US <5 years were more likely to seek health information more frequently (p = .01). The majority of participants did not worry about their health, and it was not significantly associated with source or frequency of seeking health information. Conclusions The high trust in doctors represents an opportunity for healthcare professionals to educate and address individual barriers contributing to refugees' underutilization of preventive care services such as routine immunizations and preventive health screenings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0273650
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September
StatePublished - Sep 2022


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