Examining the Relationship between Online Social Capital and eHealth Literacy: Implications for Instagram Use for Chronic Disease Prevention among College Students Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: College students actively seek online health information and use Instagram, an image- and video-based social networking website, to build social networks grounded in trust and behavioral norms (social capital), which have the potential to prevent chronic disease. Purpose: This study aimed to: (1) examine how intensity of Instagram use moderates the relationship between eHealth Literacy and online social capital in college students, and (2) discuss how Instagram can be used as a social awareness platform for chronic disease prevention among college students. Methods: Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to analyze web-based survey data from a random sample of college students (N=327). Results: Online bridging social capital was associated with greater eHealth Literacy (P<.05) and intensity of Instagram use (P<.001), when controlling for socio-demographic variables. The relationship between eHealth Literacy and online bridging social capital was strongest among respondents' with average (P<.01) and high (P<.01) intensity Instagram use, as compared to low Instagram intensity. Discussion: High intensity of Instagram may strengthen college students' low eHealth Literacy, especially when interacting with heterogeneous connections with weaker ties. Translation to Health Education Practice: Health education specialists should continue to explore how college students' intensity of Instagram use can be strengthened to build bridging online social capital, and ultimately prevent chronic disease.

altmetric score

  • 8.93

author list (cited authors)

  • Paige, S. R., Stellefson, M., Chaney, B. H., Chaney, D. J., Alber, J. M., Chappell, C., & Barry, A. E.

citation count

  • 15

publication date

  • July 2017