Understanding exploratory search in seeking health information
AuthorPang, Cheong Iao
AffiliationComputing and Information Systems
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2016 Dr. Cheong Iao Pang
The general public increasingly uses the Internet to access health information, but finding and discovering the right information remains problematic. We hypothesise that health websites do not have the features and the design required for obtaining health information, particularly the lack of support for exploratory search. This research aims to improve the design of consumer health websites and health information seeking applications with an in-depth understanding of health information seeking behaviours. In this thesis, we will present a study that investigates the behaviours observed in health information seeking. The results suggest that exploratory search is used in health information seeking, in addition to the commonly used focused search approach. Moreover, people are found adopting and switching between search approaches for different scenarios. These findings are conceptualised into a model describing health information seeking behaviours. Based on the model of health information seeking behaviours, we present a design for supporting the heterogeneous and shifting behaviours and improving the user experience. A proof-of-concept health website named Better Health Explorer was created to illustrate the design. We will discuss the rationale of the design, the features of this website, as well as how these features support health information seeking in this dissertation. Finally, we will report on an evaluation on this website. The evaluation shows a positive impact on health information seeking after incorporating the elements from our proposed design, and highlights the necessity of designing for different health information seeking behaviours. More importantly, we have consolidated six design considerations that are crucial in supporting health information seeking behaviours. These design considerations should be applied in future designs of health websites, and are worthy to investigate further in future research.
Keywordshealth information seeking behaviour; exploratory search
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