Conference paper Open Access
The internet is a popular choice for health information seeking (Rowley, Johnson, & Sbaffi, 2017). While some researchers have raised concerns over the quality of information online and the lack of quality standards (Ghasemaghaei & Hassanein, 2015; Metzger, 2007; Savolainen, 2011), health information-seeking is generally viewed as a positive activity (Lambert & Loiselle, 2007). The internet provides convenient, cost-effective and private access to a fast body of medical information and patient support (Quinn, Bond, & Nugent, 2017; Sbaffi & Zhao, 2019). Researchers have argued that this availability has helped to encourage the move "from physician‐as‐expert to patient‐as‐consumer in healthcare encounters" (Gage & Panagakis, 2012, p.444).
Despite widespread acknowledgement of the importance of understanding how individuals process and use the information that they find, this is an area which has received less attention in the literature than other aspects of human information behaviour (Case & O'Connor, 2016; Pluye et al., 2019). It remains an area that is frequently referenced but is rarely explicated; instead, it is left as an ambiguous appendix to information seeking (Savolainen, 2009). One of the difficulties for researchers lies in the inconsistent and interchangeable use of terminology, examples of terms used in the literature include: information use, information processing, knowledge utilisation, information utilisation, information use behaviour and information use outcome (Choo, Bergeron, Detlor, & Heaton, 2008; Kari, 2010; Spink & Currier, 2006; Todd, 1999).
The focus of this research is on the outcomes of information seeking; how individuals use the information that they find and the effect of this use (Kari, 2010). As such, this study adopts the term, information use outcome to describe the result of information seeking. This exploratory research aims to provide more insight into this process by examining the information use outcomes of women during pregnancy.