START Conference Manager    

ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012

Consumer Health Information Searching Process in Real Life Settings and Cognitive Activities
Yan Zhang

Tuesday, 1:30pm


Current research on consumer health information searching focuses on users' adoption of sources or their behaviors of using a specific system. Yet, few studies took a holistic perspective to examine health information searching as a process that takes place in real life settings and the cognitive activities involved. To fill this gap, we interviewed twenty-one young consumers about their specific health information searching experiences. The results indicated that health information searching is as much social as it is private, as participants not only relied on search engines, but also consulted their close social ties and healthcare providers. When examining information from a source, participants followed a set of heuristics. At the same time, they evaluated the information, and the evaluation focused on making a quick assessment of the relevance of the information. When a decision was made to read a source more closely, they started to pay more attention to the quality of information. Participants performed various cognitive activities to process the information that they found and the knowledge gained from the search had an immediate impact on their health behaviors or health-related decisions.