Understanding and especially remembering web-based health information can be challenging, more so when one has little or no prior medical knowledge. In 2013, it was determined that the majority of people living in the Netherlands and the United States used the internet often to find out health- related information and according to surveys, they considered it
to be the most valuable resource to find medical information. But, a significant amount of the participants had stated that they had difficulty comprehending the web-based health information due to low health literacy. The issue with this is, now where everyone is so dependent on technology and the internet, they turn to Google for answers and are less likely to go for preventative health services for example, cancer screenings or even to the hospital if they think what they are experiencing is not serious. To reduce this disparity among people of low versus high health literacy, it was found that this generation responded less to written text and more to pictures or animations. There are different ways of studying and learning however, most health literature states that the most effective way of studying and recalling it at a later time is through animations. One of the studies conducted by Schulz and Castaneda in 2015 investigated this further where they tested three variables:
- Do healthcare animations improve the way people remember information?
- Do healthcare animations improve understanding among those with low health
- Is there a difference between health literacy groups?
An online experiment was done consisting of 231 participants, aged 55 years or older with either high or low health literacy. There were different categories, one of spoken versus written text and the other with illustration versus animations. Participants all had the same information regarding colorectal cancer screening and were randomly introduced to one of the four categories. The results depicted that from the group of participants with low health literacy, spoken text together with animations was the most effective method to help them recall and understand information as opposed to written text. From the group that had a high health literacy rate, there was no difference displayed between how they comprehended written texts and animations. However, there was a slight difference in that they recalled more information from the animations shown compared to the written information about colorectal cancer screenings. This study, in support of many others, established that displaying information using healthcare animations improved understanding and recollection among those who had a low health literacy. As online communication is on the rise, it is important to use this platform as much as possible to transfer healthcare information and make it easily accessible to people. As shown in the studies above it is clear that animations say a 1000 words. Therefore, healthcare animations would be most useful and intriguing for online medical information, especially for those with a low health literacy.