Progressive information engagement model: Using, losing, and rejecting information in crisis situations

Lynn Westbrook
2009 Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology  
The pervasive, personal crisis of intimate partner violence (IPV) demands the full panoply of community and governmental information resources. IPV survivors must make effective use of those varied information resources but the more fully those resources are used, the more complex their information applications become. This study triangulates two populations and two data-gathering techniques encompassing IPV survivor interactions with both formal and informal information systems. The first
more » ... nt analyzed the information issues of IPV survivors in 1,793 postings from an active bulletin board (BB) community. The second segment analyzed in-depth interviews with 57 individuals (24 shelter staff, 14 police officers, and 19 IPV survivors) in ten contrasting cities. In addition to a clearly defined matrix of information needs that are reported elsewhere, an unexpected pattern emerged which has been tentatively labeled as the "progressive information engagement model." This four-stage model provides significant indicators of the different qualities that determine successful information interactions at different stages in survivors' movement towards safer living. Each stage is delineated by three factors: the primary information need, the affective influences on efforts to meet that need, and the information myths that are cognitive barriers to successful information utilization. This paper explicates the stages and their characteristics. The pervasive, personal crisis of intimate partner violence (IPV) demands community and governmental information resources in criminal justice, child-care, workforce, health care, mental health, public housing, and social service arenas. IPV survivors must make effective use of those varied information resources within the time constraints of safe house care limitations and legal deadlines. The more fully those resources are used, the more complex their applications become. One critical research problem, therefore, is the nature of IPV survivor efforts to effectively utilize multiple information resources within the constraints imposed by the parameters of their personal crises. Social service agencies, law enforcement, shelters, and public libraries can better identify the most effective means of providing support if they understand how IPV survivors actually engage with information that could help them build safer lives. In the course of researching the information experiences and contexts in which IPV survivors interact with community information resources, an unexpected pattern emerged which has been tentatively labeled as the "progressive information engagement model." This four-stage model provides significant indicators of the different qualities that determine successful information interactions at different stages in survivors' movement towards safer living. Each stage is delineated by three factors: the primary information need, the affective influences on efforts to meet that need, and the information myths that are cognitive barriers to successful information utilization. Problem statement Personal crises generate information needs that pertain to daily matters (e.g., housing, employment, health care) but differ from other daily information needs on a fundamental level. The nature of a crisis is that it compresses and heightens stress and at the same time it impacts the individual's focus, priorities, and perspective. These matters affect which information channels are perceived as potentially helpful or threatening. Both the needs and their correlated behaviors vary substantially from the daily norm. In the case of intimate partner violence, particularly long-term violence, the crisis stretches out over cycles that shape cognitive, affective, and behavioral interactions (Shurman & Rodriguez, 2006) . The cycles will vary and may overlap but generally they consist of the abuse
doi:10.1002/meet.2008.1450450308 fatcat:oodcx7ipifh47das7eno5jwh3q