New Publication: Cancer patients information-seeking behaviour related to online electronic healthcare records.

We recently got a paper accepted for the ISHIMR conference, and the paper got such good reviews that it will also be published in the Health Informatics Journal in the spring. The paper was written by Hanife Rexhepi, Isto Huvila, Rose-Mharie Åhlfeld and Åsa Cajander. We are all part of the DOME consortium and we have now published many papers about the usage and effects of medical records online for patients. Below is a short description of the paper. If you are interested and want to know more a paper reprint can be found here.

Patients’ online access to their EHR and the rapid reproduction of medical information on the Internet has changed the way patients use the information to learn about their health. It is well known that patients frequently turn to the Internet to find information about their health and care. However, little is known about patients´ information-seeking behaviour when using online EHRs.

In this paper, we used information horizons as an analytical instrument. With this instrument we investigate the information behaviour of cancer patients who have chosen to see their EHRs (readers) and those who have not made that option (non-readers). Thirty interviews were conducted with patients.

Based on information horizons, it seems that non-reading is associated with living in a more restricted information world compared to readers. The findings do not suggest that the smallness would result from an active avoidance of information, or that it would be counterproductive for the patients.

As shown by the analysis, healthcare professionals are the entry point to information for both readers and non-readers. Since healthcare professionals are the main source of information, they must take the time to inform, to listen and to urge patients to ask questions. Ensuring that patients have appropriate information is essential for providing the best care.

An important distinction between readers and non-readers is that non-readers are outsourcing the information trust to healthcare professionals. This result indicates that they are more inclined to believe that the information they receive during their visit is sufficient.

The readers’ information needs, however, do not end at a patient meeting as accessing online EHRs often generate questions related to the content in the health record. Hence readers, in contrast to non-readers who tended to rely on the general source type and refer to search engines, often use specific and healthcare endorsed Internet sources. Considering the amount of misleading information on the Internet, healthcare professionals should take greater responsibility in educating patients as to how to safely surf the Internet for medical information.

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