eHealth literacy and Minority Health: An Ethnographic Study on Health-Related Use of New Media among Disadvantaged Adolescents

The main aim of this subproject is to get first insights into the everyday use of digital health topics by adolescents belonging to risk groups, concentrating on youth with migration background from Afghanistan and Turkey with low socio-economic status, in their socioecological environment. The main research questions are: Which skills do adolescents have in using eHealth offers? Are there any significant differences that differ from what we know about eHealth literacy until now? And if so, which skills do adolescents have that go beyond the skills we know from the research that are considered relevant for eHealth literacy? Through the present research proposal, we expect (1) to get more information about the daily and routine handlings of adolescents with eHealth topics and assume that (2) adolescents with a low socioeconomic status and migration background do have eHealth skills.
The subproject „ELMi“ aims to produce a deeper understanding of the links between ethnic backgrounds, health behaviour and skills, new media, social media and health inequalities in adolescence. In line with the partner project PrettY, our starting point is the correlation of health behaviours of adolescents with socioecological contexts. From this perspective, the usage of eHealth services (and the informational exchange of health topics in general) have to be socioecologically contextualized. To understand eHealth skills and behaviour of young people, it is therefore necessary to understand the social and cultural context in which they live. Another assumption of the subproject is that lifestyles and the culture of daily life are determined by social and ethnic backgrounds rather than by individual factors. Regarding to group-specific sociocultural differences we apply the perspective of Pierre Bourdieus theoretical model of social milieus. For ethnic differences we refer to constructivistic models which conceptualize ethnic belonging not as an essentialistic category but rather as a context of socialization (similar to the milieus of Bourdieu). Gender will be the third category we will take into consideration. In addition, young people’s living conditions (understood as setting variables) are to be considered as structural variables (different financial, cultural and personal resources). All these dimensions impact on the approach of young people to health topics. The core assumption of the ELMi project is that our target group is skilled to deal with the consumption and communication of health-related media although most of health services and information do not target them (middleclass bias). We want to overcome the cognitivistic fallacy, which evaluates eHealth literacy with general literacy competencies. Accordingly, the main aim of this subproject is to uncover eHealth-related skills and competencies, i.e. eHealth literacy of underprivileged adolescents.

Prof. Dr. Uwe Bittlingmayer
-subproject leader-
Freiburg University of Education
Zeynep Islertas
Freiburg University of Education
Elias Sahrai
Freiburg University of Education