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Gül Seçkin, Susan Hughes, Cassie Hudson, David Laljer and Dale Yeatts

Purpose: The aim of the study is to consider the use of the Internet as a potential facilitator of positive health-related perceptions. Specifically, we propose that

Abstract

Purpose: The aim of the study is to consider the use of the Internet as a potential facilitator of positive health-related perceptions. Specifically, we propose that online health information seeking fosters positive perceptions of health. Using path modeling, we theorized several mechanisms through which information seeking could be conducive to positive health perceptions, which we conceptualized into the following four dimensions: (1) sense of empowerment in managing health, (2) self-reported ability to take better care of health, (3) sense of improved health-related quality of life, and (4) self-reported improvement of health.

Methodology: Our sample consisted of respondents who have used the Internet as a resource for health information (n = 710), drawn from the largest national probability-based online research panel. Our comparison subsample consisted of older respondents (age ≥ 60; n = 194). We used Internet-specific measures and employed structural equation models (SEM) to estimate the direct, indirect, and total effects of health-related use of the Internet on subjective health perceptions. Based on our review of the literature, competent health communication with healthcare providers and sense of empowerment in managing personal health were modeled as mediator variables. We assessed whether the proposed mediational relationships, if significant, differed across our indicators of positive health perceptions and whether any differential associations were observed among older adults. We run parallel models for each indicator of positive health perception.

Findings: Provider-patient communication informed by the Internet resources were perceived to impart a greater sense of empowerment to manage health among our respondents, which in turn, was associated with perceived contributions to better self-reported ability to provide self-care, increased health-related quality of life, and improvement in self-reported health. The SEM results revealed a good fit with our full sample and subsample.

Research Implications: Conceptualization of the multidimensional aspects of online health information seeking with separate multi-indicator analyses of the outcome variable is important to further our understanding of how technology may impact the pathways involved in influencing health perceptions and as a result health outcomes.

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eHealth: Current Evidence, Promises, Perils and Future Directions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78754-322-5

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Article

Devon Greyson

Despite societal investment in providing health information to young parents, little is known about the health information practices of young parents themselves. The…

Abstract

Purpose

Despite societal investment in providing health information to young parents, little is known about the health information practices of young parents themselves. The purpose of this paper is to explore young parents’ health information practices in context.

Design/methodology/approach

This constructivist grounded theory study investigates the health information practices of young mothers and fathers (age 16-23) in Greater Vancouver, Canada. Data were collected over 16 months via individual interviews with 39 young parents (37 mothers, 2 fathers) and observations at young parent programs. Inductive analysis was iterative with data collection.

Findings

Young parent health information practices emerged, clustering around concepts of information seeking, assessment, and use, with sharing conceptualised as a form of use. Many young parents were sophisticated information seekers, and most were highly networked using mobile technology. While access to information was rarely a barrier, assessment of the large quantity of health-related information posed challenges.

Research limitations/implications

These findings are not generalisable to all populations. Newly identified information-seeking practices such as defensive and subversive seeking should be explored further in future research.

Practical implications

Rather than focusing on quantity of information, health and information professionals trying to reach young parents should focus on fostering information literacy skills and building relationships as trusted information providers.

Social implications

Young parent experiences of social marginalisation influenced their information practices and should be taken into consideration.

Originality/value

This first investigation of young parent information practices can guide services and resources for young parents, suggests that sharing might be conceptualised as a subset of use, and highlights new information-seeking practices by marginalised individuals, such as defensive and subversive seeking.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 73 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article

Zhaohua Deng, Shan Liu and Oliver Hinz

Although the health information seeking behavior of consumers through the internet has received great attention, limited attempt has been made to integrate both the health

Abstract

Purpose

Although the health information seeking behavior of consumers through the internet has received great attention, limited attempt has been made to integrate both the health information seeking behavior and the usage behavior in a mobile online context. The purpose of this paper is to explore the factors that influence consumer mobile health information seeking (MHIS) and usage behavior based on information quality, perceived value, personal health value, and trust.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was conducted to collect data. A two-step approach of structure equation modeling based was used to test the measurement model and hypothesis model.

Findings

Information quality, perceived value, and trust were found to have positive effects on both the intention to seek and to use health information, and that the intention to seek affects the intention to use. Among the three components of perceived value, the utilitarian and epistemic values were found to have significant effects on intention to seek. In addition, the current health status of health consumers moderates the relationships between MHIS and usage intention and their determinants.

Originality/value

Studies have primarily focussed on online health information seeking behavior, whereas a few of these studies have examined the seeking behavior intention and the usage behavior intention in a general model. The results indicate that health information usage behavior intention is closely related to the seeking behavior intention in the mobile context, which enriches the research on the relationship between information seeking and its outcomes. Furthermore, this study highlights the impact of information quality, perceived value, and trust on the intention to seek, and the impacts of information quality and trust on the intention to use, which have been overlooked in previous studies on MHIS.

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Information Technology & People, vol. 28 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article

Edda Tandi Lwoga and Neema Florence Mosha

The aim of this paper is to assess information needs and information seeking behaviour of parents and caregivers of children with mental illness at the Kilimanjaro…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to assess information needs and information seeking behaviour of parents and caregivers of children with mental illness at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania. The study mainly assessed the information needs of parents and caregivers of children with mental illness, their preferable sources of health information, and their constraints on information seeking.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used a case study research design, where 168 structured questionnaires were distributed to parents and caregivers of children with mental illness at the Neurological Pediatrics Outpatient Clinic of KCMC. The rate of response was 89.3 per cent.

Findings

The study found that health information needs of parents and caregivers were mainly associated with health care (for example, nutrition, treatment) and health education. Parents and caregivers of children with mental illness used the internet as the main source of information about their children's health, which was followed by printed books and television. Health information seeking behaviour appeared similar across gender categories, but there were differences on the use of print and electronic information sources according to age and level of education. The main factors that hindered access to health information included low level of education, lack of funds and health information illiteracy.

Practical implications

The paper provides useful suggestions that would facilitate information seeking and use among parents and caregivers of children with mental illness in Tanzania and other countries with similar conditions.

Originality/value

Previous studies on the topic are scanty and, therefore, the paper provides important insights into the information needs and information seeking behaviour of parents and caregivers of children with mental illness in a developing country setting.

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Article

Ágústa Pálsdóttir

This paper aims to explore health and lifestyle information seeking behaviour by examining the connection between purposive information seeking and information encountering.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore health and lifestyle information seeking behaviour by examining the connection between purposive information seeking and information encountering.

Design/methodology/approach

Data on purposive seeking and information encountering, gathered from postal surveys in 2002 and 2007, were compared. Random samples of 1,000 Icelanders, aged 18 to 80 were used. The response rate was 51 per cent in 2002 and 47 per cent in 2007. Based on the purposive seeking in 22 sources, k‐means cluster analysis was used to draw four clusters of participants: passive, moderately passive, moderately active and active.

Findings

The results from 2007 and 2002 revealed the same kind of information seeking. The findings indicate that information encountering is an integral feature of information seeking behaviour. Information is encountered more often than sought on purpose by all clusters. Clusters that were active in purposive information seeking were also active in information encountering and those who were passive in either of the two styles of information seeking were also passive in the other.

Research limitations/implications

The response rates are considered satisfactory in postal surveys. Nevertheless, when missing data in the cluster analysis are also considered it raises a question about the validity of the findings. The findings of the studies, however, are strengthened by the fact that respondents reflect the population fairly well.

Practical implications

Improved knowledge of information seeking and how different groups within society can be reached more effectively is important for health promotion and public health practice.

Originality/value

The paper uses quantitative methods to examine the connection between purposive information seeking and information encountering.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 66 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article

Christine Marton and Chun Wei Choo

By selectively reviewing theory‐driven survey studies on internet health information seeking, the paper aims to provide an informal assessment of the theoretical…

Abstract

Purpose

By selectively reviewing theory‐driven survey studies on internet health information seeking, the paper aims to provide an informal assessment of the theoretical foundations and research methods that have been used to study this information behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

After a review of the literature, four theory‐driven quantitative survey studies are analyzed in detail. Each study is examined in terms of: theoretical framework; research variables that form the focus of the study; research design (sampling, data collection and analysis); and findings and results of hypothesis testing and model testing. The authors then discuss the theoretical models and analytical methods adopted, and identify suggestions that could be helpful to future researchers.

Findings

Taken as a whole, the studies reviewed point strongly to the need for multidisciplinary frameworks that can capture the complexity of online health information behavior. The studies developed theoretical frameworks by drawing from many sources – theory of planned behavior, technology acceptance model, uses and gratifications, health belief model, and information seeking models – demonstrating that an integration of theoretical perspectives from the health sciences, social psychology, communication research, and information science, is required to fully understand this behavior. The results of these studies suggest that the conceptual models and analytical methods they adopted are viable and promising. Many relationships tested showed large effect sizes, and the models evaluated were able to account for between 23 and 50 percent of the variance in the dependent variables.

Originality/value

The paper represents a first attempt to compare, evaluate, and to a degree synthesize the work that has been done to develop and test theoretical models of health information seeking on the web.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 68 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article

Torben Hansen, Heidi Boye and Thyra Uth Thomsen

The purpose of this paper is to empirically investigate the role of gender, food health involvement, and food health information competency in predicting consumer food…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to empirically investigate the role of gender, food health involvement, and food health information competency in predicting consumer food health information seeking.

Design/methodology/approach

A conceptual model for predicting consumer food health information seeking is proposed. The predicting constructs are general food health involvement, general food health competency, product‐specific health involvement, and product‐specific food health competency. The relationships between construct are estimated using structural equation modelling. Data were collected in a nationally representative consumer‐panel among 504 Danish consumers using a questionnaire.

Findings

The results suggest that improving consumers' general food health involvement may only lead to increased product‐specific health information seeking if consumers at the same time are involved in the specific product category. The results also revealed that women are generally more food health involved than men but did not support previous research suggesting that women also are more knowledgeable about healthy food and that they more often seek product‐specific food health‐related information.

Research limitations/implications

This research concentrated on analysing one food product, salad dressing. A large cross‐section of products ought to be studied to improve the generalizability of the obtained result and thus future research may wish to incorporate a wider range of food products.

Practical implications

The results suggest that food authorities and/or food marketers seeking to promote a healthy life‐style should consider providing examples of healthy product categories (food authorities) and/or particular products (food marketers) along with their general health information.

Originality/value

This paper empirically investigates gender along with a number of mental constructs for the purpose of understanding consumers' food health information seeking. Also, the paper explores age and educational level as possible moderating variables of the consumer food health information seeking process.

Details

British Food Journal, vol. 112 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0007-070X

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Article

Jo-Yun Li and Yeunjae Lee

This study seeks to address the question on the role of information-seeking behavior in dealing with uncertainty on workplace health disclosure from the perspectives of…

Abstract

Purpose

This study seeks to address the question on the role of information-seeking behavior in dealing with uncertainty on workplace health disclosure from the perspectives of internal communication.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey was conducted with 409 full-time employees in large-sized companies in the United States.

Findings

The results showed that employees engage in proactive and passive information-seeking strategies when they are uncertain about their supervisors' reactions toward their health problems. Positive EOR and organizational climate would increase their intention to adopt inquiry strategy, whereas negative EOR and the climate would increase their intention to adopt monitoring strategy. Employees who adopt inquiry strategy tend to perceive the benefits of health disclosure, whereas those who adopt monitoring strategy tend to perceive the risks of health disclosure. If employees perceived increased benefits in terms of health disclosure, then they tend to disclose their health problems to their supervisors, and vice versa.

Originality/value

This study is among first to investigate workplace health disclosure decision-making from the perspectives of internal communication. These findings highlight the importance of excellent internal communications in employees' health disclosure decision-making process and support the proposition that proactive information-seeking is a strategy that contributes to uncertainty management in the workplace. This study also provides significant practical guidelines for corporate communication practitioners and leaders by establishing a safe and friendly environment where employees feel comfortable to disclose their health problems to supervisors.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article

Annika Rantala, Heidi Enwald and Sandy Zinn

The purpose of this paper is to examine differences of health information seeking among Finnish and South African university students. The focus is on weight management…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine differences of health information seeking among Finnish and South African university students. The focus is on weight management and on how students utilise various internet sources.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected with a web-based, structured survey by using convenience sampling. Descriptive statistics and Pearson’s χ2 test were utilised in the analysis.

Findings

Overall, health information was more often encountered than sought on purpose. Passive information seeking was more common for South African students as almost a third of them report encountering it several times a week. As an information source, South African students opted for social networking sites more frequently than search engines, the latter being the first choice for Finnish students. Discussion boards were more popular among South African students, and, on the other hand, web-based health calculators among Finns.

Research limitations/implications

This is a small-scale comparative study. The results are not to be generalised, but may provide clues about the information seeking differences between Finland and South Africa.

Practical implications

Media literacy, digital literacy and health information literacy of young adults should be emphasised so that they would be able to evaluate information for reliability and accuracy in order to help them make appropriate decisions when confronted by health information online.

Social implications

The implications of the study are that health providers and professionals should be more prominent on social media sites, which are popular ways for young people to discover information.

Originality/value

Comparative studies are rare. This comparison is between Finland, where internet penetration is 94 per cent, and South Africa, where internet penetration is 54 per cent.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 37 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

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Article

Edda Tandi Lwoga

The purpose of this study sought to determine the characteristics that distinguish online from offline information seekers among people living with human immunodeficiency…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study sought to determine the characteristics that distinguish online from offline information seekers among people living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV) in selected regional hospitals of Tanzania.

Design/methodology/approach

Questionnaire-based survey was conducted among 341 adults with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection attending the HIV clinics in the regional referral hospitals in Mwanza, Mbeya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The study used multivariate logistic regressions to determine factors that distinguish online HIV information seekers from offline HIV information seekers.

Findings

One in every five survey participants sought online HIV information (19.6 per cent, n = 67). Both higher level of education (odds ratio (OR) = 1.765, 95 per cent confidence interval (CI) = 1.208-2.58) and intention to use internet in future (OR = 1.566, 95 per cent CI 1.148-2.136) were predictors of online HIV information seeking behaviour at multivariate analysis. Respondents who sought online information reported to have gained knowledge such as; to understand their conditions better (77.4 per cent, n = 41) and understand information received from health care workers (66 per cent, n = 35), as well as acquisition of health promoting behaviour such as; asking questions during doctor’s visit (55 per cent, n = 35) and consulting a clinician when they have problems (64.3 per cent, n = 33). The offline HIV information seekers (n = 274) did not use internet due to lack of information seeking skills (44.3 per cent, n = 113) and lack of access to internet connectivity (30.2 per cent, n = 77).

Originality/value

This is a comprehensive study that differentiates online from offline HIV information seekers in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. The results suggest that interventions to improve online access information will empower patients and probably positively affect their health knowledge and health promoting behaviours.

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