BACKGROUND: Previous studies examining characteristics of Internet health information seekers do not distinguish between those who only seek for themselves, and surrogate seekers who look for health information for family or friends. Identifying the unique characteristics of surrogate seekers would help in developing Internet interventions that better support these information seekers. OBJECTIVE: To assess differences between self seekers versus those that act also as surrogate seekers. METHODS: We analyzed data from the cross-sectional Pew Internet and American Life Project November/December 2008 health survey. Our dependent variable was self-report of type of health information seeking (surrogate versus self seeking). Independent variables included demographics, health status, and caregiving. After bivariate comparisons, we then developed multivariable models using logistic regression to assess characteristics associated with surrogate seeking. RESULTS: Out of 1250 respondents who reported seeking health information online, 56% (N=705) reported being surrogate seekers. In multivariable models, compared with those who sought information for themselves only, surrogate seekers were more likely both married and a parent (OR=1.57, CI=1.08, 2.28), having good (OR=2.05, CI=1.34, 3.12) or excellent (OR=2.72, CI=1.70, 4.33) health status, being caregiver of an adult relative (OR=1.76, CI=1.34, 2.30), having someone close with a serious medical condition (OR=1.62, CI=1.21, 2.17) and having someone close to them facing a chronic illness (OR=1.55, CI=1.17, 2.04). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide evidence that information needs of surrogate seekers are not being met, specifically of caregivers. Additional research is needed to develop new functions that support surrogate seekers.
"The current online environment facilitates numerous health communication opportunities. First, the Internet is a repository where people can search for health information for themselves or others (Fox & Duggan, 2013; Sadasivam et al., 2013). Although most individuals prefer to rely on physicians as first source for health information, they most frequently turn to the Internet when initiating a search, a tendency that has increased over time (Hesse et al., 2005; Hesse, Moser, & Rutten, 2010). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Internet increasingly enables diverse health communication activities, from information seeking to social media interaction. Up-to-date reporting is needed to document the national prevalence, trends, and user profiles of online health activities so that these technologies can be best used in health communication efforts. This study identifies prevalence, trend, and factors associated with seeking health information, e-mailing health care providers, and using social media for health purposes. Four iterations of HINTS survey data, collected in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2012, were analyzed to assess population-level trends over the last decade, and current prevalence of Internet-based health communication activities. Sociodemographic and health correlates were explored through weighted logistic regression modeling. Findings demonstrated that Internet use has steadily increased, with 78% of U.S. adults online in 2012; however several digital divide factors-among them education, age, and race/ethnicity-still predict access. Once online, 70% of adults use the Internet as their first source for health information, and while 19% have e-mailed health care providers, engagement in health communication on social media is still relatively low. Distinct user profiles characterize each type of communication, with age, population density, and gender emerging as important predictors across online health activities. These findings have important implications for health communication research and practice.
Journal of Health Communication 06/2015; 20(7):1-9. DOI:10.1080/10810730.2015.1018590 · 1.61 Impact Factor
"These prior studies also suggest that it is more frequently the women in the family who are surrogate seekers. Women frequently act as overall health advocates for their families, and studies show that often men prefer to rely on female relatives for health information and health care decisions (Davison, Degner, & Morgan, 1995; Levinson, Kao, Kuby, & Thisted, 2005; Sadasivam et al., 2013). Given cultural norms (e.g., allocentrism, familism) and traditional gender roles often observed in Latino culture (Sabogal, Marín, Otero-Sabogal, Marín, & Perez-Stable, 1987), it is reasonable to hypothesize that surrogate information seeking may be particularly common among Latino women compared with Latino men. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: Spanish-monolingual Latinos account for 13% of U.S. residents, and experience multiple barriers to effective health communication. Information intermediaries/proxies mediate between the linguistically-isolated and healthcare providers. This study characterizes the information needs of surrogate callers and their subjects to a U.S.-based Spanish-language radio health program.
Methods: Content analysis of calls placed (N=281 calls).
Results: Women made 70% of calls; 39.1% of calls were on behalf of children, 11.0% on behalf of parents/older adults, 18.5% on behalf of spouses/siblings/contemporary adults. Most common topics were disease symptoms/conditions (19.6%), cancer (13.9%), and reproduction/sexuality (12.9%). Calls for children were more likely than those for parents/other adults to pertain to current illness symptoms or conditions; calls for parents were more likely to be about cancer/chronic conditions. Half of all calls sought clarification about a previous medical encounter.
Conclusion: Information-seeking surrogates may represent a useful strategy for linguistic minorities to overcome structural and individual barriers to health information access. Results suggest that Latinos are willing to seek information on behalf of friends and family and highlight the need for improved, culturally and linguistically appropriate health communication sources.
Practice Implications: Leveraging Latinos’ natural familial social networks/willingness to share information may improve dissemination of culturally-and-linguistically-appropriate health information. Further implications for patient activation and doctor-patient communication are discussed.
Health Promotion Practice 02/2015; DOI:10.1177/1524839915574246 · 0.55 Impact Factor
"A complex regimen may cause patients to explicitly ask their partners for treatment-related support, which may trigger partners to seek treatment-related information. Older partners in our sample shared more information about the patient's medications than younger partners, which may reflect that older adults are more likely to search for treatment information than younger adults  . Partners also highly trusted and used the patient for medication information, which could be due to ease of access to the patient  . "
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