J Am Coll Health. 2022 Jun 3:1-8. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2022.2080505. Online ahead of print.
Objective: This study aimed to understand students’ ability to search the Internet for COVID-19 information and apply it to evaluate the veracity of specific statements. Participants: Undergraduate students (N = 239) at a US university completed a Web-based questionnaire in September-October 2020. Methods: The questionnaire included self-reported measures of online health information literacy, COVID-19 knowledge, and anxiety along with exercises on searching and evaluating COVID information online. Results: Students reported moderate levels of information literacy (76%, 3.8 out of 5), but did not perform as well while searching the Internet for COVID-19 information (average accuracy: 65%, 10.5 out of 16 points). Students with higher Internet exercise scores reported higher GPA, higher household income, and liberal political views, and were more likely to follow public health measures [ie, social distancing, mask wearing, and not self-medicating with (hydroxy)chloroquine]. Conclusions: University students may overestimate their information literacy while struggling with searching the Internet for accurate COVID-19 information.