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A visualization analysis of consumer health information search behavior on obesity

Jin Zhang and Dietmar Wolfram

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


The authors employ multidimensional scaling (MDS), an exploratory visualization technique, to conduct a study of health information consumers’ search behavior extracted from a consumer health information system web transaction log file. The topic of obesity was the focus of the study because it represents a growing public health problem, and is a popular search topic by users of consumer health information systems. Four obesity-related query terms and their co-occurring terms were identified and analyzed using MDS. The findings show coherent patterns in query term usage with distinct clusters of terms. Knowledge of these patterns can be used to support query modification in system design. Also, it sheds light on our understanding of health customers’ search patterns, and provides insights into website content organization optimization for health information portal designers.

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