Published Report Details
Mandatory Fields
Higgins, O; Sixsmith, J; Barry MM; Domegan, C
A literature review on health information seeking behaviour on the web: a health consumer and health professional perspective.
Stockholm, Sweden
Optional Fields
Healthy Literacy; social marketing, health information; consumer health,
Executive summary The purpose of this literature review is to provide an overview of research studies published from 2006 to 2010 in the English language on online health information-seeking behaviour by adults from the perspective of both the health consumer and the health professional. Interest in the internet as a communication tool for health-related information is growing rapidly [1]. The profile of online health consumers can be broadly defined as patients, patients’ friends/relatives, and citizens in general [2]. Health information-seeking behaviour varies depending on type of information sought, reasons for, and experience of, searching [3]. Research shows that women are more likely than men to search for health information [4,5] and online health consumers tend to be more educated, earn more, and have high-speed internet access at home and at work [6,7]. Internet-based health information is accessed from a variety of sources, including websites run by organisations, homepages run by individuals, and online support groups where people actively exchange health information and blogs. As more people use the internet as a source of health information the issue of source credibility and trust in websites becomes important [8]. Research shows that health professionals’ use of the internet to obtain health and medical information has increased [9–11]. Furthermore, in a cross-sectional survey, 80% of physicians reported experience of patients presenting printed internet-sourced health information at visits [12]. Thus, the traditional doctor–patient relationship is being challenged. The internet is a resource available to an increasing number of European citizens but, as with other information sources, differential access and use is apparent both within countries and between countries in the European Union. A lack of research in the European context means that the potential of the internet as a source of health information may not be fully understood. Nevertheless, the internet would appear to provide the ideal medium for the provision of information targeted at the prevention and control of communicable disease for both health consumers and health professionals in Europe.
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