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Understanding Health Information Seeking

UCD study suggests that the impact of people's perceptions of risk on their health information-seeking decisions may be overstated.

Doctoral student Katherine Grasso and her Advisor Dr. Robert Bell have published a paper titled, "Understanding Health Information Seeking: A Test of the Risk Perception Attitude Framework." The article, published in the Journal of Health Communication, is based on a survey of 689 respondents. Findings suggests that the impact of people's perceptions of risk and self-efficacy on their health information-seeking decisions may be overstated. Their data show that a wider range of influences on health information seeking should be investigated, including curiosity, prior knowledge, social expectations, and situational norms.

 

Abstract

The authors used the Risk Perception Attitude framework, which is grounded in the Extended Parallel Process Model, to predict people's intentions to seek health information. In an online survey, 689 participants recruited from a crowdsource website were queried about their anticipated health information seeking, perceived risk, and efficacy in response to four scenarios pertaining to hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, alcohol dependence, and diabetes. Each participant was categorized for each scenario as responsive (higher risk, higher efficacy), avoidant (higher risk, lower efficacy), proactive (lower risk, higher efficacy), or indifferent (lower risk, lower efficacy). As predicted, responsive individuals were more likely to seek information than avoidant individuals, but only in three of the four scenarios. Also as expected, there was no difference between proactive and indifferent individuals’ likelihood of seeking health information for any scenario. Risk and efficacy, while significant predictors of anticipated health information seeking, left much of the variance unexplained. An analysis of the reasons for information seeking and nonseeking among nonconforming cases suggests that a wider range of influences on health information seeking should be investigated, including curiosity, prior knowledge, social expectations, and situational norms.