A pilot study using mixed methods to analyze the online Health Information Seeking Behavior (HISB) of LIS students at a small Midwestern University was conducted to establish the feasibility of investigating the online HISB of LIS students in a larger future study. The project sought to answer the following research questions: (1) what health information topics do library and information science students seek when they search online, (2) how do students find online health information, (3) what do they do with this information, and (4) what attributes of health-related Web pages do Library and Information Science students use when making credibility judgments about this information?
The top five health topics of interest to LIS students are a specific disease or medical condition (94%), a certain medical treatment or procedure (71%), exercise or fitness (67%), a particular doctor, clinic, or hospital (54%), and depression, anxiety, stress, or mental health issues (50%). LIS students find online health information by search engine (75%), specific site like WebMD (52%), general site like Wikipedia (14%), social media site like Facebook (12%), journal database (10%), and online health encyclopedia/reference sources (4%). LIS students reported the following reasons for seeking online health information: personal health concerns (47.6%), healthy life style (28.2%), for a family or friend (21.4%), and curiosity or research (2.9%).
In the quantitative survey, LIS students reported the mean reliability of online health information as 4.6 out of 7, indicating they have a high level regard for the reliability of online health information. However, interview results indicate that LIS students are generally skeptical of the health information they find online and that they choose to verify findings by checking out additional sources for confirmation. In addition, LIS students are highly influenced by information in the peripheral cue when making credibility judgments about online health information.
Morrow, Edward Steffen Jr., "Health Information Seeking Behavior of Library Information Science Students" (2015). Beta Phi Mu Award. 5.