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Abstract

Objective: To identify the primary sources of information first year Canadian and US veterinary students relied on for their personal health and nutrition information, and to explore their attitudes towards, and perceptions of, health information resources.

Background: Though the animal health information-seeking behaviours (HISB) of veterinary students have been explored, research regarding personal HISB of this professional student population is limited.

Evidentiary value: Participants were first year veterinary students (n=322) at the five Canadian veterinary schools and five randomly selected US veterinary schools. An online questionnaire was used to gather students’ demographic information, sources of health and nutrition information, and information-seeking attitudes and perceptions. This study may impact practice at the institutional level for veterinary educators.

Methods: STATA 15.1© was used for quantitative analysis; involving multivariate logistic regression models, univariate analyses, and measures of frequency.

Results: Results indicated high reliance on the Internet for personal health 213/322 (66%) and nutrition 196/322 (61%) information. While respondents revealed high trust levels in dietary recommendations from family doctors, 132/322 (41%) of students revealed their doctor did not provide any information on healthy diets. Students who reported the use of peer-reviewed journal articles for personal nutrition information were at greater odds of having confidence in knowing where to find nutrition information (Odds Ratio [OR] = 6.61, p<0.001).

Conclusion: Participating students reported a high reliance on the Internet search engine Google, and a general lack of guidance from medical professionals regarding general health needs.

Application: Veterinary schools should consider this information to enhance student information literacy skills, particularly to facilitate personal HISB, and consequently help in management of personal health throughout the growing demands of the programme.

 

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