ASIS&T 2013 Annual Meeting 
Montrťal, Quťbec, Canada | November 1-5, 2013

Seeking Treatment Options: Consumersí Search Behaviors and Cognitive Activities

Ramona Broussard, University of Texas at Austin
Yan Zhang, University of Texas at Austin

Sunday, 3:30pm


As people increasingly search the Internet for health-related topics like treatment options, it is important to understand how they construct their searches, and how they understand the results. In this paper, we report results from an exploratory lab study with 40 participants and follow-up interviews with eleven of them about their use of search engines to find treatment options. While corroborating prior research concerning basic consumer health information search behaviors (e.g., query length and evaluation of results), our findings also extend the current understanding of health information searching by suggesting that the process of seeking treatment options is shaped by consumersí propensity for familiar and confirming information as well as their desire to seek novel information. Furthermore, our findings suggest that consumers look for confirming or novel information depending on where they are in a particular timeline during their search. The results indicate that search systems can better support consumers in finding novel information about treatment options, but that it would be best to introduce novel information after satisfying consumers search for general and familiar information.