Consumer health information seeking on the Internet: The state of the art

  • Cline R
  • Haynes K
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Increasingly, consumers engage in health information seeking via the Internet. This review argues why public health professionals should be concerned about this topic, considers potential benefits, synthesizes quality concerns, identifies criteria for evaluating online health information and critiques the literature. The Internet offers widespread access to health information, and the advantages of interactivity, information tailoring and anonymity. However, access is inequitable and use is hindered further by navigational challenges. Increasingly, critics question the quality of online health information. Meager information-evaluation skills add to consumers' vulnerability, and reinforce the need for quality standards and widespread criteria for evaluating health information. Future research needs to address the Internet as part of the larger health communication system and take advantage of incorporating extant communication concepts. In addition, future research should address the inherently communicative and transactional quality of Internet use. Both interpersonal and mass communication concepts open avenues for investigation and understanding the influence of the Internet on health beliefs and behaviors, health care, medical outcomes, and the health care system. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2002 APA, all rights reserved)

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Evaluation-
  • *Health-Behavior
  • *Information-Seeking
  • *Internet-
  • *Quality-of-Care
  • 33
  • 3365
  • 3365-Promotion-and-Maintenance-of-Health-and-Welln
  • Communication-
  • Health-Personnel
  • Human
  • Human-Computer-Interaction

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  • R J W Cline

  • K M Haynes

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