Background: Preference for information is a personality trait that affects people’s tendency to seek information in health-related situations. Prior studies have focused primarily on investigating its impact on patient-provider communication and on the implications for designing information interventions that prepare patients for medical procedures. Few studies have examined its impact on general consumers’ interactions with Web-based search engines for health information or the implications for designing more effective health information search systems.
This study concludes that preference for information has an impact on the search behavior of general consumers seeking health information. Those with a high preference were more likely to use more general queries when searching for specific factual information and to develop more complex mental representations of health concerns of an exploratory nature and try different combinations of concepts to explore these concerns. High-preference users were also more demanding on the system. Health information search systems should be tailored to fit individuals’ information preferences.
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