Trust and Access: Eye Information-seeking Practices and Preferences among Canadians : Optometry and Vision Science

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Trust and Access: Eye Information-seeking Practices and Preferences among Canadians

Spafford, Marlee M. OD, PhD, FAAO1∗; Chow, Amy H. Y. OD, PhD, FAAO1; Labreche, Tammy OD, BSc, FAAO1; Jones, Deborah A. BSc, FCOptom, FAAO1; Christian, Lisa W. T. OD, BSc, FAAO1; Furtado, Nadine M. OD, MSc, FAAO1; MacIver, Sarah OD, BSc, FAAO1; Irving, Elizabeth L. OD, PhD1

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Optometry and Vision Science 100(7):p 467-474, July 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000002038



This study highlights the value that the public places on obtaining trusted and accessible health-related information and their preference for obtaining it from their health care practitioners. Previous research has not been specific to Canadians or vision. Findings can be used to increase eye health literacy and eye care utilization.


Canadians underuse eye care and underestimate the occurrence of asymptomatic eye disease. This study explored eye information-seeking practices and preferences among a group of Canadians.


Using snowball sampling, a 28-item online survey collected respondent perceptions about their eye and health information-seeking practices and preferences. Questions examined electronic device access, information source use, and demographics. Two open-ended questions examined information-seeking practices and preferences. Respondents were at least 18 years old and living in Canada. Individuals working in eye care were excluded. Response frequencies and z scores were computed. Written comments were assessed using content analysis.


Respondents searched for less eye than health information (z scores ≥ 2.25, P < .05). For eye and health information, primary care providers were the used and preferred source, and reliance on Internet searches was greater than desired. Trust and access drove information-seeking practices. Respondent comments suggested that a hierarchy of trust operates across My Health Team, My Network, and My External Sources, with a persistent threat posed by Discredited Sources. Access to information sources seemed mediated by enablers (Convenience and Accessible Features) and barriers (Unreachable Health Team and Absent Systems). Eye information was seen as more specialized and harder to find. There was a high regard for health care practitioners who provide their patients with curated trusted information.


These Canadians value trusted and accessible health-related information. They prefer eye and health information from their health care practitioners and value when their health team provides online curated information, particularly regarding eyes.

Copyright © 2023 American Academy of Optometry

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