International Students’ Online Health Information Seeking Behavior

A Cross-Sectional Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs) Prevention and Health Literacy among Chinese International Students


  • Yue Dong University of Oklahoma
  • Paul Branscum Miami University
  • Haijuan Gao University of Oklahoma



higher education, international students, health literacy, sexually transmitted infections


Sexual health is crucial to the overall health and wellbeing of international students; however, few studies about them have evaluated their health literacy and knowledge about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention. This study investigated Chinese International Students’ (CIS) health literacy about STIs, focusing on their use of information online. A culturally-tailored 12-item STIs prevention survey was developed for this study, and an internet search was conducted by eight CIS. Overall, participants found correct information for the STI items in 51% of the cases (n=96). A Wilcoxon test suggested that CISs who were sexually active had lower health literacy skills than those who were not (p=0.02), and there were no significant associations between health literacy levels, acculturation, and length of stay in the United States. While limited in scope, the result from this study suggests the need for further research as well as need for education in health literacy in order to counter threats to wellbeing among sexually-active CISs.




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Author Biographies

Yue Dong, University of Oklahoma

Yue Dong, MA, is a PhD candidate in the Human Health and Biology and Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma. His major research interest lies in the relationship between acculturation and disease prevention behavior, which includes the promotion of health literacy in higher education. His publications have appeared in a variety of venues in the field of public health, health communication, and genetics. Email:

Paul Branscum, Miami University

Paul Branscum, PhD, RD, is an Associate Professor in Department of Kinesiology and Health, Miami University. His major research interests include theories and techniques of behavior change, measurement issues related to attitudes, perceived norms and perceived behavioral control, as well as instrument/survey development and validation. His publications can be found in the field of health behavioral theory, public health, and health education. He is the current Sr. Co-Chairs for the TTBCI SIG at the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Email:

Haijuan Gao, University of Oklahoma

Haijuan Gao, PhD, MD, was an Assistant Professor in Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma. Her major research interests include public health, epidemiology, and development of mix-method research instruments. Her publications can be found in the field of cancer prevention, obstetrics and gynecology, and health care. Email:




How to Cite

Dong, Y., Branscum, P., & Gao, H. (2018). International Students’ Online Health Information Seeking Behavior: A Cross-Sectional Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs) Prevention and Health Literacy among Chinese International Students. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Higher Education, 3(1), xx-xx.