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Volume 8 – Winter 2015

Breaking the silence: acceptability, perceived impact, and need for GirlTalk, a health education website for female Pakistani college students.

Mariliis Beger, PhD,1 Khawaja Zain-ul-abdin, PhD.2
Cases in Public Health Communication & Marketing. 2015;8:94-114.

Author Affiliations

1 Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL., USA.
2 Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan.


Background: Topics related to sex and female cancers are a controversial and sensitive issue for public discourse in most countries, especially in deeply religious ones like Pakistan. GirlTalk was a web-based health information portal targeted to young Pakistani females ages 18-30 that provided information about sexual and women’s health.

Methods: A survey method was used to measure perceptions of need and usability of the Internet-based health information source among the target population. Perceived knowledge about condom use, vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), and breast self- exams were measured via a pretest and posttest assessment of the N = 132 study participants. Satisfaction with the website, intentions to use the website, and to ask questions of an online doctor in the future were assessed.

Results: Among study participants, 90.9% perceived a need for such a platform for Pakistani girls. Satisfaction with the information provided (80.3%), the website’s ease of use (81.8%), and comfort of use (79.5%) was high, and 72.0% reported they would be likely to use the website again. However, fewer (63.6%) expressed a willingness to ask questions of an online doctor.

Conclusion: Study findings indicated that young Pakistani females were willing to use web-based sexual health and female cancer prevention information resources, but were somewhat more cautious about asking for health advice online. The overall results suggested great potential to improve access to reliable health information and to overcome the social, religious, and cultural barriers against talking about issues related to sex as well as cervical and breast cancer. (Full-text PDF)


  • • Developing countries
  • • Reproductive health
  • • Young adult
  • • Consumer health information
  • • Internet
  • • Student health services
  • • Pakistan

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