Health information sharing behaviors on Facebook among emerging adults
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While more and more practitioners have started to use social networking sites (SNS) as a way to communicate with young audiences about health topics, not much is known about why emerging adults share health information on those platforms. Drawing from the theory of planned behavior, the situational theory of problem solving, and the uses and gratifications approach, this study proposes and tests a model that highlights proactive and reactive information sharing behaviors and the motivational factors that predict these behaviors. In the context of sharing influenza-related information on Facebook, a survey study (N=338) was conducted. The results of structural equation modeling and regression analyses confirmed the applicability of the proposed information sharing model in the current research context. Despite some insignificant relationships, the features of emerging adults were empirically examined, with possibilities and instabilities recognized as potential contributors to information sharing behaviors. In addition, it was observed that the differences between proactive and reactive information sharing behaviors related to the roles of perceived control over the information sharing behavior. Specifically, the perceived norms of information sharing, the need for self-presentation on SNSs, and the sense of virtual community were identified as the more prominent predictors for both proactive and reactive information sharing behaviors. The framework and findings of this study present future opportunities for researchers who work on health information behaviors, emerging adulthood, and digital health communication. The implications in health intervention development are also discussed.