Laypeople's source selection in online health information-seeking process

Yu Chi, Daqing He, Wei Jeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


For laypeople, searching online health information resources can be challenging due to topic complexity and the large number of online sources with differing quality. The goal of this article is to examine, among all the available online sources, which online sources laypeople select to address their health-related information needs, and whether or how much the severity of a health condition influences their selection. Twenty-four participants were recruited individually, and each was asked (using a retrieval system called HIS) to search for information regarding a severe health condition and a mild health condition, respectively. The selected online health information sources were automatically captured by the HIS system and classified at both the website and webpage levels. Participants' selection behavior patterns were then plotted across the whole information-seeking process. Our results demonstrate that laypeople's source selection fluctuates during the health information-seeking process, and also varies by the severity of health conditions. This study reveals laypeople's real usage of different types of online health information sources, and engenders implications to the design of search engines, as well as the development of health literacy programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1484-1499
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was partially supported by the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh for providing payments to the participants, and also partially supported by grants MOST108‐2636‐H‐002‐002 and MOST107‐3017‐F‐002‐004, as well as under the grant (#107 L900204) received by CRETA at National Taiwan University, sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Association for Information Science and Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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