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Encouraging consumer searching behavior on healthcare web sites

B. Andrew Cudmore (Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida, USA)
Paula E. Bobrowski (Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)
Tinatin Kiguradze (Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




Commercial healthcare and hospital‐based web sites appear to exhibit distinctive formats. This paper aims to compare two award winning medical web sites with two top commercial healthcare web sites in an effort to determine significant predictors of positive attitudes toward the web sites when actively searching for healthcare information.


Three linear regressions were utilized to test the paper's hypotheses. Subjects entered a computer laboratory and were given search tasks for health information to complete within four web sites (two commercial and two hospital‐based web sites – order randomized).


The study shows how user perception, attitude and gratification are revealing of the strengths and weaknesses of hospital‐based vs commercial healthcare web sites as a means of providing users with healthcare information. Commercial healthcare web sites are viewed significantly more positively than hospital‐based web sites, revealing that overall web site quality and ease of use to be the dominant predictors of positive attitudes toward the web sites.

Research limitations/implications

The ecological validity of using real web sites presents challenges in terms of controlling for alternative explanations stemming from within web site type. Future research could explore different tasks that can be facilitated by medical web sites and assess the attributes of the web sites accordingly.

Practical implications

The paper can help design and develop better hospital‐based and commercial healthcare web sites.


This research explored actual information search behavior and the resulting web site user perceptions in an effort to bring academic inquiry into practice. Nothing similar to the hypotheses or this methodology has been found within the web site effectiveness literature, neither generally nor specifically within the healthcare industry.



Cudmore, B.A., Bobrowski, P.E. and Kiguradze, T. (2011), "Encouraging consumer searching behavior on healthcare web sites", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 290-299.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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