Wechatting for health: What motivates older adult engagement with health information

Xiaoxiao Zhang, Xiaoge Xu, Jiang Cheng

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Although WeChat has become increasingly popular among Chinese elderly people as a tool to engage with health information, little research has examined their motivations for health purposes and their engagement with health information on the site. By applying the two-stage Use and gratification (U&G) approach, we first conducted in-depth interviews (n = 20) to explore older adults’ distinctive motives. Based on the 22 motives found in the qualitative research, we developed a questionnaire for an online survey (n = 690) to further investigate how these motives affect older adults’ engagement with health information on WeChat. As the result, six motive typologies were identified: information needs, social support, surveillance, social interaction, self-agency building, and technological convenience. Together, these six types of motivations jointly account for 59.9% of the variance in older adults’ engagement with health information (M = 2.71, SD = 0.79, adjusted R2 = 0.59, p < 0.001). Social support and information needs were significant predictors, suggesting that the older WeChat users’ active engagement is driven by personal instrumental gratification. This study examines the explanation power of U&G theory in a health context, as well as provides the practical implication for leveraging mobile social media to improve older people’s healthcare management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number751
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • engagement behaviors
  • health communication
  • health information
  • older adults
  • social media


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