A Community-Based Intervention for Increasing Access to Health Information in Rural Settings

Oana Maria Blaga, Răzvan Mircea Cherecheș, Cătălin Ovidiu Baba

Abstract


The health information needs of people living in rural areas are unmet. We aim to report on the results of the IRIS institutional- and population-level intervention designed to improve access to health information in rural settings. The intervention consisted of three components: equip local libraries with health-related books, train librarians to refer them to locals, and enhance locals’ health information seeking behavior, self-efficacy, and health literacy. Data was collected using a mixed-methods strategy of inquiry in 2010 and 2011 from 822 adult inhabitants from four rural communities in Cluj county, Romania, using a nonrandomized control-group pretest-posttest study design. We used the Kruskal-Walis one-way analysis of variance to determine statistically significant differences between the two study groups.

Results show that individuals from rural communities included in the intervention group were more engaged in health information seeking, had higher self-efficacy in reading and understanding health-related materials, and reported higher frequencies of asking about and borrowing books on health themes from the village library as compared to respondents in the control group. As the IRIS initiative made use of available community resources and proposed only several incremental changes within the librarian system, this intervention has a major potential of sustainability and replicability.


Keywords


rural; health information; access; library; Cluj county; Romania.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24193/tras.58E.2

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