Senegal is a country that has made substantial investments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) over the past ten years, allowing citizens access to global information systems. Today, health promotion in the developing world often involves digitally-based dissemination of health messages;however, health literacy scales to test the degree to which recipients process and use the information from these communications are lacking. Youth comprise a large component of the Senegalese population at present: 28% of the population is between 10-19 years of age. The transition from childhood to adulthood as teens develop physically, cognitively, and socio-emotionally has positive and negative impacts on health that can entail personal, social and monetary costs. Testing how youth audiences use Internet-based health information and how increased health literacy and e-health literacy impact outcomes of interest serve as the focal issues of interest underlying our FIRCA-BSS proposal. In the proposed study we bring expertise from the parent R01 grant (1-R01 HD059756-01) on adolescent health literacy to partner with Senegalese youth reproductive health researchers in the Regional Center for Training and Research in Reproductive Health (CEFOREP) and Riseau Africain de l'Education pour la Santis (RAES). We will draw a sample of 2,400 youth from approximately 5,000 high school students and out-of-school youth who will be concurrently participating with CEFOREP on the One World UK Learning about Living program. These youth will be drawn from 7 secondary schools and 3 informal learning settings in three regions of Senegal representing urban, peri- urban and rural settings and drawn as a subsample of classes. Participants will pilot a survey anonymously and answer pilot survey measures that include Media Consumption;ICT Use and Access;Basic Computer, Internet and Mobile Technology Literacy;Functional Health Literacy Levels;E-Health Literacy;Media Literacy;Knowledge;and Attitudes. Our goal is to adapt measures previously used among Senegalese youth, as well as measures used in the developed world, and create new measures to understand how youth in the developing world access, process, and use health information. The standardized measures we develop can then be used to assess and evaluate efforts to combat health disparities in Senegal and potentially other countries experiencing similar levels of communications technology development.
The goal of this study is to create a valid and reliable set of measures that can be used as scales for assessing health literacy, e-health literacy, media and computer literacy, and use of and access to computers and the Internet among in- and out-of-school youth aged 14-21 in Senegal. We will work collaboratively with Senegalese researchers. This will be a significant step toward expanding research among youth about new forms of health communication currently increasing in scope and breadth in Africa and worldwide.