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J Health Commun. 2010;15 Suppl 3:252-63. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2010.522697.

Providing health messages to Hispanics/Latinos: understanding the importance of language, trust in health information sources, and media use.

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Division of General Internal Medicine, and Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, 750 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Health communication is critical to promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing unhealthy behaviors. However, populations may differ in terms of their trust in and use of health information sources, including mass media, the Internet, and interpersonal channels. We used the 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) to test the hypothesis that Hispanics who are less comfortable speaking English would differ from Hispanics who are comfortable speaking English with respect to trust in health information sources and media use. Hispanics/Latinos comprised 9% of the 2005 HINTS sample (n = 496). Respondents not born in the United States regardless of race/ethnicity and all Hispanics were asked, "How comfortable do you feel speaking English?" Responses of "completely," "very," or "native speaker" were combined into "comfortable speaking English": all other responses were categorized as "less comfortable speaking English." Those comfortable speaking English reported higher trust for health information from newspapers (p < .05), magazines (p < .05), and the Internet (p < .01) compared with those less comfortable speaking English. They also reported more media exposure: daily hours listening to the radio and watching television (both p < .05) and days per week reading newspapers (p < .05). Hispanics comfortable speaking English reported much higher levels of Internet use (54% versus 14%, p < .0001). Hispanics who are not comfortable speaking English may be difficult to reach, not only because of language barriers and lower trust in media, but also because they report relatively little use of various media channels. These findings have important implications for health communications toward non-native speakers of English in general and Hispanics in particular.

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