Objectives: We examined how different types of health information-seeking behaviors (HISBs)-no use, illness information only, wellness information only, and illness and wellness information combined-are associated with health risk factors and health indicators to determine possible motives for health information seeking.
Methods: A sample of 559 Seattle-Tacoma area adults completed an Internet-based survey in summer 2006. The survey assessed types of HISB, physical and mental health indicators, health risks, and several covariates. Covariate-adjusted linear and logistic regression models were computed.
Results: Almost half (49.4%) of the sample reported HISBs. Most HISBs (40.6%) involved seeking a combination of illness and wellness information, but both illness-only (28.6%) and wellness-only (30.8%) HISBs were also widespread. Wellness-only information seekers reported the most positive health assessments and the lowest occurrence of health risk factors. An opposite pattern emerged for illness-only information seekers.
Conclusions: Our findings reveal a unique pattern of linkages between the type of health information sought (wellness, illness, and so on) and health self-assessment among adult Internet users in western Washington State. These associations suggest that distinct health motives may underlie HISB, a phenomenon frequently overlooked in previous research.