Henry Beck and the London Underground map Human nature dictates that whenever we group, we start devising a shared identity, bonding around imaginary heroes, myths, and legends. Visualization, infographics, and data journalism aren't exceptions. Years ago, I wrote about the myths surrounding John Snow's undeniable achievementsand I often need to point out that most visualizations that look very innovative have precedents. It happened just yesterday with one of my graphics.
Open in a separate window Moderators JM and AK trained in qualitative methodology facilitated discussions about the attitudes and experiences of participants related to searching for health information on the Internet.
|NEW BOOK AVAILABLE||But the majority of Web health-seekers tend to be affluent, well-educated and female, which means millions of Americans are cut off from the Internet at a time when the federal government is pushing the health industry to post more information online. The Pew researchers asked participants if they had used the Internet to search for at least one of 16 major health topics online, ranging from mental health, immunizations to sexual health information.|
|Online Tutorial and Open Learning Resources||Online health information - what can you trust? URL of this page:|
Moderators used a semi-structured moderator guide to facilitate discussion and the guide covered four major aspects: Participants were asked about their thoughts and the connotations surrounding each of these themes.
Oral consent was obtained from all participants. Prior to participating in the focus groups, participants completed an anonymous questionnaire that included questions assessing basic demographic information and previously used sources of health information.
All focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed, and de-identified. Data Collection and Analysis All team members read de-identified transcripts and developed a codebook through an iterative process [ 21 ]. Using the codebook, two members of the team independently coded the transcripts in NVivo, a qualitative software application.
Coding inconsistencies were discussed and resolved through consensus, with the input of a third team member when necessary. Results Overview Participants candidly discussed how they used the Internet to search for health information. Through these discussions, several themes related to health motivations, content preferences, and practical applications of searching emerged.
Below we summarize these data in the context of three major themes: Motivations for Online Health Searching A variety of factors play a role in initiating online searches for health information. The motivations that our participants described generally fell into three main areas: A participant from Focus Group FG 3 mentioned: Once a particular symptom or disorder of interest is identified, participants reported that the Internet made it very easy to get more detailed information to help identify underlying causes.
As a participant of FG 3 explained: Using the Internet provided a quick and easy way to troubleshoot symptoms; however, there are certain situations where using the Internet is more likely. One participant explained that the Internet is especially more convenient for superficial symptoms: The Internet provides a level of anonymity that may be helpful in situations where individuals perceive their problems to be bothersome or nuisances to doctors.
Participants often cited practical reasons related to time and money when describing their motivations for turning to the Internet for medical information or advice. Another participant in FG 1 also echoed a similar sentiment: For non-serious medical issues, participants were generally comfortable using the Internet as a troubleshooting tool.
Once a health care provider is involved, however, searching assumes a different role. In this context, participants reported using Internet searching as a means to enhance a clinic visit and be more well-prepared and well-informed during the entire health care experience with their providers.
In these situations, Internet searching proved to be a valuable tool in preparing for the clinic visit. As one participant in FG 1 explained, Internet searching allowed her to walk into a surgery consultation armed with a prior understanding of possible procedures: These situations highlight the third main motivation for searching that our participants discussed:The Library and Information Resources Network, a (c)(3) nonprofit corporation formed in , is a consortium of educational institutions that have joined together to share access to information .
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Introduction. The Internet is an increasingly popular source for health-related information. Lastly, whilst we offer likely explanations for the associations found here between searching for health information online and self-rated health, we cannot causally explain them, instead only suggest potential pathways.
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