Esra Abdoh

Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Library and information Science

First Advisor

Paul Solomon


The study examined how international students use their social networks to seek medication information, how their social networks provide social support, and how perceived social support is related to seeking medication information online. While there has been a paucity of research on the way international students seek information in their day-to-day lives (Sin and Kim, 2013), there is still a gap in the literature regarding how social networks employed by international students have a positive impact on building bridges toward home. In particular, no studies on the use of social support in social networks to retrieve medication information exist.

This study aims to investigate whether social networking can serve as an effective channel for medication-related social support (MRSS) among Middle Eastern international students in the United States. In addition, this study investigates the factors affecting the intentions of students’ medication information-seeking behaviors within social networks, including the relationships between perceived social support, health consciousness, perceived barriers during the search for medication information, and the act of seeking medication information online.

Data analysis employed a convergent mixed method design and Structural Equation Modelling techniques. This study is framed by two theoretical perspectives– (1) Chatman's Information Poverty Theory (1996) and (2) Media Complementarity Theory (Dutta-Bergman, 2004a). Of the 208 Omani, Saudi, and Iraqi students attending the University of South Carolina, Columbia campus, 187 students completed the survey. The findings indicated that important sources of medication information in social networks for the students were their family members, relatives or friends who are medical professionals. In summary, the results reveal how a high level of health consciousness, as well as a relatively high number of perceived barriers when searching for medication information by conventional means, encouraged the students to utilize social networks more and seek social support. Increased social support leads to greater perception of emotional and esteem support thereby facilitating verification and validation of information attained through social networks. This social support can indeed benefit international students by enhancing their confidence in managing their medication information seeking.


© 2019, Esra Abdoh