Healthcare professionals believe that it is important for patients to be educated about health for optimal outcomes. For education to occur, healthcare professionals need to know where patients seek information. The concept of health information–seeking behavior (HISB) focuses on how patients obtain information (strategies/actions). Theories/ models are presented to describe how patients obtain information and what they do with information that is available. The most recent HISB research has examined the use of the Internet for health information. Although the Internet is utilized by many individuals, studies show that the most common and trusted source of information is healthcare professionals. Individuals use other sources of health information (e.g., TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, Internet, and family/friends/coworkers) to supplement information provided by healthcare professionals. When and how individuals use supplemental information varies and is associated with many factors such as race, education, income, health literacy, and health status. Utilizing health information also depends on an individual's health orientation. As nurses, we need to utilize knowledge about HISB to assist patients in obtaining health information to optimize health outcomes.
Carolyn Crane Cutilli, MSN, RN, ONC, CRRN, Doctoral Student, School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.