Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Information-Seeking Behaviour and Sources of Information for People Living with HIV-AIDS: Case Study of a Military Hospital

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Information-Seeking Behaviour and Sources of Information for People Living with HIV-AIDS: Case Study of a Military Hospital

Article excerpt

People with chronic illness like the Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV) often seek information to understand their diagnosis, decide on treatments and predict their prognosis. The fear of discrimination and somatization prevents people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) from easily seeking information. Factors affecting information seeking include demography, age, "cultural" behaviors, educational background and accessibility. This study determined the information-seeking behavior of a random representative sample of HIV positive patients attending the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Ojo and the hospital's support group, where consultations are of short duration. Data were collected through structured questionnaire distributed at the HIV clinic and support group meetings as well as through in-depth interview within the support-group. Most respondents were aged between 20-49 years. Television/radio and support-group are the first two preferred information media (73% and 69% respectively). 20% sought information through HIV-AIDS campaign and 11% from traditional healers. Female patients sought information more than the male patients and 65% of the female respondents sought information from support-groups. Patients with no formal education (39%) consulted the traditional healers, while those with secondaiy school and higher qualifications use the support-group (92%). The internet was a preferred source among those with higher education but was rated lowest overall. It was found that education, age and gender influenced information-seeking by military personnel living with HIV-AIDs.

Key words: information-seeking-behavior, HIV/AIDS, People Living with HIV/AIDS

Information seeking can be defined as a goal-seeking behavior, the goal being the resolution of a problem. People with acute or chronic illness such as HIV often seek information to understand their diagnosis, decide on treatments and predict their prognosis. Factors affecting information seeking include, age, "cultural" behaviors, educational background, accessibility, problem solving and reading skills. (Kuhlthau,1993; Albright, 2007; Wilson, 2007).

Age is a factor in information seeking. The amount of health information received by urban residents from all sources declined with age while rural residents receive a high amount of information in the 30-44 years age group with levels also dropping in the 45-65 years age range. The levels of information received by the older women only dropped slightly with age, compared to older men (Cornnel and Crawford, 1988). Level of education and knowledge base are also intervening variables in information seeking. Highly knowledgeable people may feel less need to search for more information, whereas the level of knowledge of an individual may enhance the capability to decode information, thereby making further information acquisition easier (Mclnnis and Jaworski 1991). Popoola (2000) established a significant relationship between sources of information to health consumers and their level of literacy. The environment may impose barriers to information-seeking behaviors. Information exchange between patients and doctors may be inhibited by the amount of time available, the stress of the situation, use of unfamiliar medical terminologies, duration of consultation and interruptions such as telephone calls (Cameron et al, 1994). Emotional barriers have proved to be significant in limiting access to health information. People who are ill or who believe themselves to be at risk for disease may avoid information when it is distressing or when it conflicts with beliefs which they are comfortable with (Emmons, 2000; Brashers et al, 2004). Others may avoid diagnostic information that might help them determine the implications of symptoms (Babrow, 2001).

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation where an estimated 2.9 million people were living with the virus in 2012 (UNAIDS, 2012). The public admission of what may be high HIV infection rate among militaiy personnel potentially compromises national security (Ostergard, 2004). …

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