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Final Literature Review

Final Literature Review

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: fruittingles on May 23, 2010
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08/14/2010

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LITERATURE REVIEW ON WOMEN’S ACCESS TO HEALTHINFORMATION
LITERATURE REVIEW ON WOMEN’S ACCESS TO HEALTH INFORMATION...................1TRENDS AND PREFERENCES IN ACCESSING SOURCES OF HEALTH INFORMATION .5As discussed, there are numerous sources of health material differing greatly in quality, type andcurrency. However, improvements in women’s own and their family’s health will not happenunless certain barriers to using health information sources are overcome. The first of these is thatof health literacy; it is important to ensure that women know how to source appropriate, qualityinformation, comprehend it, and apply it to their lives. The second is to overcome barrierscreated by the information itself, such as it being incomplete or unspecific and not qualityassured. Finally, there are barriers to using these sources of health information related towomen’s time constraints and women’s specific circumstances........................................................18Incarcerated women and specific health needs ...................................................................................24
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Introduction and Background for Literature review
The Women’s Centre for Health Matters (WHCM) is a community-basedorganisation that aims to provide women with access to reliable and broadranging health-related information, to be an advocate for the improvement of health-related services, and to empower women to have optimal health andwellbeing. This literature review is intended to supplement a survey of women’s access to health information, their needs and trends, undertaken byWHCM in 2009, and to provide a basis for further research.
Rationale
There are a number of reasons it is important to understand how womenaccess health information from a variety of sources, the current trends, andwomen’s preferences. Firstly, women clearly want guidance and moreinformation on health matters, but they often encounter barriers in obtainingcurrent, relevant and credible health information. Personally relevant healthinformation not only enables women to make informed decisions aboutmedical procedures but also optimises their general health and wellbeing.Secondly, it is vital for women to be able to access quality health informationas they are the primary seekers of health information as well as the maindecision makers with regard to their own and their family’s health. Access toquality health information enables women to make use of health andwellbeing services when necessary and, for minor matters, to use thatinformation as a substitute for consultations with health professionals.Thirdly, access to health information increases the likelihood that women andtheir families will undertake positive lifestyle changes to improve their healthand reduce their risks and subsequent burden of preventable illness andstress.Fourthly, understanding the sources of health information used, and preferredby women, is invaluable in the continued improvement of services providingsuch information. These services need to ensure the information is accurate,can be disseminated and, easily applied by women.The way in which women access health information, and their confidence indoing so, changes over their lifetime and in response to technology anddifferent styles of health information and services available. Health informationproviders must also be aware of issues especially concerning women, suchas reproductive health, breast cancer and domestic violence. Such issuesrequire sensitive attention as available information can be distressing,factorial, opinionated and often overwhelming. There is also a need to provideadditional services to help groups of women with specific needs, for examplethose who come from Culturally And Linguistically Diverse (CALD)backgrounds, women who are illiterate, and those with disabilities to ensurethey have effective access to the health information they need.2
 
Objectives
The primary aim of this literature review is to accompany the
Women’s Centrefor Health Matters (2009) Survey on Women’s Access to Health Information inthe ACT 
. Other objectives of the literature review include:
To provide evidence based literature to help analyse and discuss theWCHM
 ACT Women’s Access to Health Information (2009) Survey 
findings. Find similarities and differences and compare study findingsto be able to comment on national and international trends.
To build upon previous research by
Women’s Health Victoria (2003)
which revealed a deficiency in access to health information for Australian women, and to determine whether that deficiency continuesto exists for women in the ACT.
To respond to women who have voiced dissatisfaction with their access to health information and validate the need to improve women’saccess to health information. Adequate access to quality healthinformation (i.e. good health literacy) is seen by the WCHM as anessential part of empowering women and promoting ACT women’shealth and wellbeing.
To examine the growing body of academic research on how adults,particularly women, access and use health information, giving specialattention to sources used and boundaries faced by specific groups of women.
To analyse the impact of technology on the means and trends of accessing health information, such as what sort of health informationwomen are seeking i.e. is it to diagnose acute medical conditions, findspecialists, for general health information, or to network with otherswho share their health conditions.
To define key terms for analysis and future research in this field of study.
Boundaries of the review
Several boundaries governed the scope of this literature review. Firstly, allarticles are from peer reviewed journals to ensure high standards of research.Secondly, almost all literature was published since 2002. This was to avoidduplicating analysis of literature already discussed in papers from the KeyCentre for Women’s Health in Society (covering 1986-1998) and the Women’sHealth Victoria (covering 1998-2003).
 
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However, some articles prior to 2003have been mentioned if they have remained relevant to issues and trendsdiscussed. Another reason for predominantly using recent articles is to takeinto account the rapid increase in Internet usage in recent years. Studies
1
Murphy, M. & Murphy, B. (2003). “Access to Women’s Health information: Asurvey of Victorian women as Information Seekers”,
Women’s Health Victoria,Melbourne, 3.
2
Astbury, J, and D. White. (1998)
“Addressing women’s health informationneeds: the adequacy of current and emerging health information systems. Aliterature review”. Melbourne: Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society.
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