Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Health Information Seeking Behavior (HISB); a Study of a Developing Country

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Health Information Seeking Behavior (HISB); a Study of a Developing Country

Article excerpt


Currently, Health Information Seeking Behavior (HISB) is broadly viewed as the ways by which individuals obtain information about health, illness, health promotion and risks to health (Lambert & Loiselle, 2007).

Public health literacy seems to be confusing. People read a lot of promotional material but they do not understand it completely. Background knowledge of individuals is different. There is not enough time to discuss with physicians and pharmacists about all "marginal" questions which can turn out to be very important(Nada & Mirjana). A survey in the United States came to the result that, overall, a physician sees each patient for 13 to 16 minutes (Medscape Physician Compensation Report, 2012). With limited time to ask questions, the more patients are informed about specific medical conditions affecting their health, the smarter the questions they will ask their doctors. And the place that many people go to find answer to their questions and other health information is their local public library (Medical Library Association and the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section (CAPHISIMLA), 1996).

A public library is an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some other forms of community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of the imagination through a range of resources and services and is equally available to all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, religion, language, disability, economic and employment status and educational attainment. The public library must provide services based on an analysis of the library and information needs of the local community (De Gruyter, 2010).

Public libraries are often the first place where individuals seek consumer health information. Librarians must evaluate, select, organize, and store information as well as provide a range of health information services on a limited budget (Nada &Mirjana).

Linnan and et al (2004) concluded that creating public library/public health partnerships holds much promise for enhancing the ability of community members to access desired health information.

Regardless of the importance of HIBS studies in effectiveness of library services, small number of studies have been done on the information behavior of the citizens of developing countries particularly the rural poor areas (Dutta, 2009).On the other hand, the rate of health literacy is low according to the study which has studied the level of health literacy in five provinces of Iran (Including Qazvin)(Tehrani Banihashemi& et al, 2007).

To offer better health information service in public libraries it is important to know the health information seeking behavior of people Therefore; in this study, health information seeking behavior of public libraries' members was investigated and the impact of some factors such as age, gender, education and job was evaluated.


The purpose of this study was to increase the understanding of the ways that people find health information in Iran as a developing country and also to identify how they evaluate the roles of public libraries in providing their users with health information

The design of the survey is based on the following objectives:

1. What for/Why do people usually seek health information?

2. How do people seek and find health information? Are they active or passive information seekers?

3. What channels and resources do people seek health information from?

4. What sources do people usually search on the Internet for health information?

5. Does the public library have a role in the health information seeking behavior of people?

6. Is there any association between socio-demographic of people (such as age, gender, education, and job) and their health information seeking behavior? …

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