EXAMINING THE GET YOURSELF TESTED CAMPAIGN: HOW ONLINE INFORMATION SEEKING AND SEXUAL HEALTH PERCEPTIONS INFLUENCE EFFICACY AND COMMUNICATIVE ACTION
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The purpose of this study is to explore young adults' meaning construction of sexual health, sexual health campaigns, and online sexual health information through the lens of the GYT: Get Yourself Tested Campaign. A secondary purpose is to develop theory in the area of e-health. Finally, this study will offer practical recommendations to the CDC's Division of STD Prevention, one of the developers of the GYT Campaign, on how to better disseminate sexual health information to young adults via the online space.
The theoretical frameworks chosen for this study are the health belief model (HBM) and the situational theory of problem solving (STOPS). Additionally, literature pertaining to campaigns, e-health and sexual health contributed to this study. The integration of these theories within this scholarly body of knowledge demonstrated the potential for merging communication theory and health behavior theory for future scholarship and practice.
A qualitative research methodology was used to collect and analyze data. Specifically, 50 in-depth interviews and five focus group sessions with young adults provided insight on how they made meaning of sexual health, online information seeking, and the GYT campaign. Analytical techniques from the grounded theory approach were used to analyze these data. A constructionist/interpretive research perspective was the guiding epistemology to situate this audience-centered study.
Themes emerged regarding sexual health perceptions, online information seeking, HBM/STOPS, and campaign development. Findings suggested that young adults were aware of the issue of poor sexual health, but faced a number of constraints that prevented them from reaching their optimal health potential. These were alleviated by the benefits of searching for information online.
This study contributes to the scholarly body of knowledge by integrating theories and applying it to an online context. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the utility of an integrated HBM/STOPS framework in campaign planning, which was explicated through the development of the E-Health Information Management Model (E-HIMM). The findings revealed that the integrated constructs from both theories were readily present in the knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of the participants, which could provide useful evidence for campaign developers when constructing messages for the young adults audience.