Assessing electronic health literacy in the state of Kuwait: Survey of internet users from an Arab state

Dari Alhuwail, Yousef Abdulsalam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The internet and social media have become an important source for health information. In 2017, the State of Kuwait ranked first in mobile subscription penetration in the Arab world; nearly 90% of its population uses the internet. Electronic health (eHealth) literacy is important in populations that have easy and affordable access to internet resources to more effectively manage health conditions as well as improve general population health. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess eHealth literacy levels across internet users in Kuwait and identify demographic characteristics that influence eHealth literacy. Furthermore, the study aimed to identify the reasons and type of information that people seek online. Finally, this study examined the utilization of various social media channels for accessing online health information. The social media platforms considered were as follows: WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat. Methods: A cross-sectional anonymous Web-based survey was used to collect data about eHealth literacy and related information. The eHealth literacy scale (eHEALS), originally developed by Norman and Skinner, is measured using 8 Likert-type scales. A linear regression model estimates the effect of demographic variables such as age, gender, and education on eHealth literacy while controlling for participants' perceived usefulness and importance of the internet. Participants were also surveyed about their frequency in using social media platforms for seeking health information. Results: Kuwait's composite eHEALS, based on a sample of 386 participants, was 28.63, which is very similar to eHEALS observed among adult populations in other developed countries. Females in Kuwait demonstrated a higher average eHEALS compared with males. Among the social media platforms, the survey results indicated that YouTube is the most frequently used to seek health information, with Facebook being the least frequently used. Conclusions: Internet users in Kuwait appear confident in their ability to search for health-related information online compared with other populations, as indicated by aggregate eHEALS scores. Considering this finding, government and health care organizations should shift more efforts from traditional media toward online health information, focusing on the social media outlets that people in Kuwait find more useful for seeking health information.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11174
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Arab
  • eHEALS
  • Health information
  • Informatics
  • Information-seeking
  • Kuwait
  • Literacy


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