Credibility and usefulness of health information on Facebook: a survey study with U.S. college students.

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      Introduction. This study examines ways in which college students perceive the credibility and usefulness of health information on Facebook, depending on topic sensitivity, information source and demographic factors. Method. With self-selection sampling, data were collected from two universities through an online survey; 351 responses were used for analysis. Analysis. The data were analysed using analysis of variance and t-tests. Results. Overall, college students tend to consider health information with low sensitivity levels as significantly more credible and useful than health information with high sensitivity levels on Facebook. Regardless of topic sensitivity, college students tend to consider professional information sources as more credible and useful than non-professional information sources on Facebook. However, among non-professional information sources, they prefer an experienced person over family when it comes to serious health issues. Female students tend to trust highly sensitive health information more than male students. Students living in campus residence halls are less likely to consider health information on Facebook as credible or useful. The more students are educated, the more credible or useful they consider professional information sources. Conclusions. This study demonstrates critical factors influencing students' perceptions of health information on a social networking site and provides implications for healthcare marketers and health educators. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]