Assessing the impact of the public nutrition information environment: Adapting the cancer information overload scale to measure diet information overload


Objective: A growing body of research suggests that exposure to too much information – particularly contradictory information that characterizes much health-related information – can lead to feeling overwhelmed. This construct has been conflated with fatalistic beliefs that are negatively associated with preventive behaviors. The objective of this study was to adapt the 8-item Cancer Information Overload (CIO) scale to assess overload of healthy diet information.
Methods: Confirmatory factor analyses with a community sample of rural California adults (n = 290; 75% female; 58% Latino; 46% < H.S./G.E.D.).
Results: Items assessing Diet Information Overload loaded significantly on their relevant factor; factor loadings were acceptable (β>.40). The adapted original scale (CFI = 1.000, RSMEA = .000, SMSR = .022) and a shorter 5-item scale (CFI = .984, RMSEA= .051, SMSR = .026) fit well.
Conclusion: The Cancer Information Overload scale was successfully adapted and shortened to measure perceptions – previously mischaracterized as fatalistic – pertaining to diet information. Improved measures distinguishing between fatalistic beliefs and outcomes of the information environment are critical.
Practice Implications: Understanding information overload is important for shaping prevention messages distinct from those needed to address fatalistic beliefs. Nutrition education efforts should consider the broader – cluttered – information environment in which nutrition education and communication occurs, and public health messages may drown.

Patient Education and Counseling, 102(1), 37-42