Article by Minsun Shim in the journal Health Communication (Issue 23, 2008, 448-461).
This study applies the knowledge gap hypothesis to the specific domain of Internet use for cancer information. In particular, this study examines disparities in online information seeking by education and ethnicity, and subsequent gaps in cancer knowledge. Perceived risk of cancer and ease of connection to the Internet are concerned as contingent factors influencing knowledge gaps. A subsample of the 2003 Health Information National Trends Survey—those who have ever been online—was analyzed. Data supported the hypothesis that high education groups and White Americans were more likely to use the Internet for cancer information than were their counterparts, and online information seeking enlarged to some degree the cancer knowledge gaps between education groups. Perceived cancer risk had a weak but significant three-way interaction effect with ethnicity and online seeking on cancer knowledge, which suggests the importance of motivation in attenuating the knowledge gaps. The moderating role of ease of connection to the Internet was not supported. Discussion about the findings and further suggestions are offered.