Methods: This study is a part of the large research project on health and cancer screening literacy which was conducted in rural Vietnam in 2017. A total number of 226 Vietnamese aged 25 to 70 participated in this cross-sectional study. Dependent variables in this study include technology use and internet use for health information. Technology use was measured by six binary questions. Online health-seeking behavior was measured by one binary question, “In the past 12 months, have you used the Internet to look for health or medical information for yourself?” (0= No, 1= Yes). Based on Andersen’s Behavioral Model, interesting variables were categorized into predisposing factors (age, gender, marital, education level), enabling factors (employment, health insurance, annual checkup, health literacy), and need factors (family cancer history, self-rated health status). The first dependent variable, technology use, was included as an enabling factor in the analysis of the second dependent variable, online health-seeking behavior. Multi-linear regression and binary logistic regression were completed in SPSS Version 25.0.
Results: Findings showed that most participants had a mobile phone (94.2%), and about 75.2% used text message. However, less than half participants used the internet (42.0%), had smart phone (45.6%), had computer or tablet (46.0%), and used mobile apps (42.0%). Multi-linear regression result showed that age (b=-.07, SE=.016, p<.001), education level (b=.37, p<.001) and annual checkup (b=.60, p<.01) were significant predictors of technology use. Binary logistic regression results showed that among predisposing variables, female (OR=.22, CI= [.050, .967]) and married (OR=.09, CI= [.013, .589]) were significant predictors of internet use for health information. With respect to enabling factors, having annual checkup (OR= 2.89, CI= [1.129, 7.409]) and technology use (OR= 2.58, CI= [1.865, 3.571]) were significant predictors. People who had annual checkup were 2.89 times as likely as those who didn’t to use internet for health information. For a one-unit-increase in technology use, the odd of internet use for health information would by 2.58 folds.
Conclusions: These findings suggested that technology access and annual checkup were the most important predictors for online health-seeking behaviors among rural Vietnamese. Future health and government initiatives should widen both healthcare and digital accesses to the rural public. This study can be helpful in assisting health information technology campaigns to understand how to improve participation in their programs, as well as provide government agencies better insight into areas that may need more attention in terms of digital access and health information technology awareness.