Determinants of Health Information-Seeking Behavior: Implications for Post-Treatment Cancer Patients
Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention
Health knowledge is necessary for personal healthcare management. The public obtains such health knowledge not only from healthcare providers, but also through daily media exposure. Health information became highly universalized amid a wave of health news, pharmaceutical advertisements, and health websites coupled with the recent emergence of user-generated Internet content (i.e. blogs) based on diverse information and communication platforms. Despite the abundance of health information,
... information, however, huge disparities exist between individuals in their levels of health knowledge, their interest in health information, and their health information-seeking behaviors (Viswanath, 2005) . Therefore, numerous advanced countries spotlight health informationseeking behaviors (HISBs) as a key element of health communication. Free access, active search, and accurate understanding and use of health information heavily influence a healthy lifestyle, early diagnosis of disease, disease control, participation in medical decision-making, understanding of therapeutic processes, and the treatment of ultimately terminal patients or post-treatment cancer patients (Van der Molem, 1999; Viswanath et al., 2012) . Formerly, doctors acted as the sole providers of health information, but technological advances in communication and information dissemination created an environment that offers diverse sources of information related to health management (Fallowfield et al., 1995). In response, citizens began to Abstract Health information-seeking behavior (HISB) is active need-fulfillment behavior whereby health information is obtained from diverse sources, such as the media, and has emerged as an important issue within the transforming medical environment and the rise of medical consumers. However, little is known about the factors that affect HISB and its associations, and the health outcome of HISB. The aim of this study was to examine individual and social contextual factors associated with HISB and to systematically review their effects on health status among posttreatment cancer patients. Individual determinants of HISB included demographic factors, psychosocial factors, perceived efficacy and norms, and health beliefs. Contextual determinants of HISB encompassed community characteristics, neighborhood social capital, and media advocacy. Improving through factors on these two levels, HISB raised individuals' self-care management skills and medical treatment compliance, and enhanced shared decision-making and medical treatment satisfaction. Moreover, because HISB can differ according to individuals' social contextual conditions, it can give rise to communication inequalities. Because these can ultimately lead to health disparities between groups, social interest in HISB and balanced HISB promotion strategies are necessary.