Four Types of Commonly Sought Health Information

health information seeking

Internet has an important place in our lives. People search the Internet for important information, especially health or medical information. They sometimes use this information for important decisions such as which physician to consult or which treatment options to choose from. Internet users do perceive the Internet as an alternative resource of information for health problems since there are many sites like that provide them the answers they are looking for. The majority still prefer to use doctors, pharmacists, and nurses as their main sources of information. So it is not used as self-doctoring as is often feared.

There are four types of commonly sought health informations:

  • Health improvement
  • Medical treatment. Information on medical treatments helps people to have more control over their health decisions, feeling more empowered.
  • Family health
  • Health issues that are difficult to talk about. The Internet reduces embarrassment and provides anonymity especially for sensitive and private health information

This study also showed

….. that those who often go to the Internet for health information and have high expectations of health information websites tend to be those who are more likely to perceive that the Internet plays an important role in life decisions.

Health information seekers especially used health information websites to weigh the pros and cons of a treatment. For someone seeking health information and a high Internet embeddedness the following characteristics of health information websites are important:

  • Nontechnical language
  • Searchable
  • Free
  • With feedback
  • With interactive support

information seeking experiences may lead to the perception of being empowered and make people feel more reliant on the Internet

So it works both ways. I don’t know about you but the Internet is very much “embedded” in my life. It fits in with my daily routine. Check e-mail twice a day, read my RSS feeds at least once a day, and much more. I use it a lot for most of my work, it enhances my productivity and quality of life. And with blogging I got to know interesting new people from all over the world.

What about you, is the Internet embedded in your life and how concerning fit, status and connectedness?

What was the research?

Data for this study were collected from a telephone survey with a probability sample of 1,076 respondents aged 18 or above, randomly chosen from the latest telephone directory in Hong Kong. The survey instrument was pilot tested before the actual fieldwork on 42 university students, which took place August 22–26, 2006. All eligible respondents included for analyses were PC users and had access to the Internet at home. Of the 569 Internet users, 51.7% were male and the mean age category was between 39 and 40 years of age. The response rate was 55%.
Leung, Louis (2008). Internet Embeddedness: Links with Online Health
Information Seeking, Expectancy Value/Quality of Health
Information Websites, and Internet Usage Patterns CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11 (5), 1-5 DOI: 18771393