Background The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident (FDNPPA) was the world's second largest nuclear power plant accident. At the time that it occurred, internet usage prevalence in Japan was as high as 80%.
Objectives To compare health knowledge on radiation and preventive behaviour between internet users and non-users among adults employed in industries in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster.
Methods We conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire study among adults employed in industries in Fukushima 3–5 months after the FDNPPA. Targets were 1394 regular workers who took part in health seminars provided by the Fukushima Occupational Health Promotion Center. After applying the selection criteria, there were 1119 eligible participants. The questionnaire asked for personal characteristics and main sources of information about the FDNPPA, as well as health knowledge on radiation and preventive behaviours following the nuclear accident. We assessed the contribution of each variable using logistic regression analysis.
Results Among the eligible respondents, 637 workers (56.9%) were internet users and 482 (43.1%) were non-users. Internet users had more health knowledge than non-users (average 4.6 radiation-related health conditions in internet users vs 3.6 conditions in non-users) and more preventive behaviours (average 2.6 behaviours in internet users vs 1.9 in non-users). According to logistic regression analyses, internet usage was positively associated with greater health knowledge on radiation (OR 1.13; 95% CI 1.08 to 1.20) and more preventive behaviours (OR 1.14; 95% CI 1.07 to 1.23).
Conclusions Internet usage was significantly and positively associated with greater health knowledge and more preventive behaviours. The internet is a useful method of distributing information to the general public in emergency situations such as a nuclear disaster.
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