In order to evaluate and facilitate the provision of health information online, we must first understand how it is perceived by those who use it. Two important considerations in research on patients’ information use in online healthcare provider choice are the need for a conceptual framework for studying information types and methods for studying information use. Therefore, our first contribution lies in using Donabedian’s structure-process-outcome model of healthcare quality to identify specific patterns of preference and information use in online healthcare provider choice, and differences in information use between two healthcare provider types. Our second contribution lies in identifying differences in results between data collection methods (importance rating/selection, concurrent self-report of online information use and retrospective information use) in relation to choice tasks. In a mixed-methods design, provider type (primary and secondary care) was systematically varied during participants’ use of the infomediary NHS Choices. Participants preferred process topics over structure topics, in contrast with the results of concurrent and retrospective self-report. We conclude that the differences in results between the types of data collection method reflect underlying differences in choice task. Future research should address the use of novel infomediary user-interfaces, and infomediaries in relation to the use of other information sources and (e-)health literacy.
van Schaik, P., Thornhill, E., Davies, M., Flynn, D., & Kusev, P. (2019). The use of information in online healthcare provider choice. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 128, 41-60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2019.01.005