Cancer-related information seeking: hints from the 2003 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)

J Health Commun. 2006;11 Suppl 1:147-56. doi: 10.1080/10810730600637574.


Few nationally representative surveys have assessed the cancer-related information seeking behavior of the American public. Data for our analysis were from the 2003 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). The goals of our analysis were to characterize cancer information seekers (3,011) and nonseekers (3,348) in terms of sociodemographic, health care access, and health status variables, and to describe the nature of the cancer-related information being sought by information seekers. Significant and independent associations with seeking status were identified for gender, age, race, income, education, personal and family history of cancer, and having a usual source of health care. Information seekers were less likely to be male (OR = .51); aged 65 or older (OR = .40); Hispanic (OR = .60); to have a usual source of health care (OR = .70); and more likely to have incomes greater than $50,000 (OR = 1.50), some college (OR = 1.87) or a college degree (OR = 2.95), a prior cancer diagnosis (OR = 3.57), or a family history of cancer (OR = 2.17). Among cancer information seekers, the most frequently searched topic was cancer site-specific information (50.2%). Individuals who reported searching for cancer site-specific information were most frequently looking for information about breast cancer (23.8%), prostate cancer (11.5%), and skin cancer (11.3%). The HINTS survey provides a unique opportunity to explore the characteristics of information seekers and nonseekers and the content of information being sought by the public in a nationally representative sample; understanding gained from this effort provides generalizable and policy-relevant information about the American public's information needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States