The daily dose of health information: A psychological view on the health information seeking process

  • The search for health information is becoming increasingly important in everyday life, as well as socially and scientifically relevant Previous studies have mainly focused on the design and communication of information. However, the view of the seeker as well as individual differences in skills and abilities has been a neglected topic so far. A psychological perspective on the process of searching for health information would provide important starting points for promoting the general dissemination of relevant information and thus improving health behaviour and health status. Within the present dissertation, the process of seeking health information was thus divided into sequential stages to identify relevant personality traits and skills. Accordignly, three studies are presented that focus on one stage of the process respectively and empirically test potential crucial traits and skills: Study I investigates possible determinants of an intention for a comprehensive search for health information. Building an intention is considered as the basic step of the search process. Motivational dispositions and self-regulatory skills were related to each other in a structural equation model and empirically tested based on theoretical investigations. Model fit showed an overall good fit and specific direct and indirect effects from approach and avoidance motivation on the intention to seek comprehensively could be found, which supports the theoretical assumptions. The results show that as early as the formation of intention, the psychological perspective reveals influential personality traits and skills. Study II deals with the subsequent step, the selection of information sources. The preference for basic characteristics of information sources (i.e., accessibility, expertise, and interaction) is related to health information literacy as a collective term for relevant skills and intelligence as a personality trait. Furthermore, the study considers the influence of possible over- or underestimation of these characteristics. The results show not only a different predictive contribution of health literacy and intelligence, but also the relevance of subjective and objective measurement. Finally, Study III deals with the selection and evaluation of the health information previously found. The phenomenon of selective exposure is analysed, as this can be considered problematic in the health context. For this purpose, an experimental design was implemented in which a varying health threat was suggested to the participants. Relevant information was presented and the selective choice of this information was assessed. Health literacy was tested as a moderator in a function of the induced threat and perceived vulnerability, triggering defence motives on the degree of bias. Findings show the importance of the consideration of the defence motives, which could cause a bias in the form of selective exposure. Furthermore, health literacy even seems to amplify this effect. Results of the three studies are synthesized, discussed and general conclusions are drawn and implications for further research are determined.

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Author:Oliver Wedderhoff
Referee:Nicola Baumann, Tom Rosman
Advisor:Nicola Baumann, Tom Rosman
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2022/01/11
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Granting institution:Universität Trier, Fachbereich 1
Date of final exam:2021/08/18
Release Date:2022/01/17
Tag:Health Literacy; Information Seeking; Psychology; Response Surface Analysis; Structural Equation Modelling
GND Keyword:Annäherung; Drohung; Gesundheit; Information; Informationsverhalten; Motivation; Selbsteinschätzung; Selbstwirksamkeit; Vermeidung
Number of pages:112
Institutes:Fachbereich 1
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY-NC-ND: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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