The general public's perceptions of open access to scientific health information
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The aim of the research was to map how members of the general public in Brazil find, access, evaluate and use health information found on the Internet. An online survey of structured questions was used as a protocol for face-to-face interviews with members of the public randomly selected. The collected data underwent statistical analysis, performing simple correlations with variables of age, gender and occupation. Adapting the monitoring tool developed by Niemela et al., a score for the participants' degree of Everyday Health Information Literacy was generated based on the participants' perceptions of how they carry out certain daily information tasks. Although participants obtain health information from medical and/or scientific sources, overall they lack confidence in their own skills to retrieve information and assess its reliability. Perceived credibility of health information sources on the Internet was higher for scientific articles available in open access, although only a quarter of participants in fact use these. Many participants claim to have used, or would use, health information found on the Internet in the decision-making process, including to change doctors. Participants' relatively low estimation of their health information literacy skills could be tackled with programmes directly aimed at minimising this perceived lacuna.