A Closer Look at Health Information Seeking by Older Adults and Involved Family and Friends: Design Considerations for Health Information Technologies

AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2018 Dec 5;2018:1036-1045. eCollection 2018.


Older adults are the largest consumers of healthcare. As part of a broader study of personal health information management (PHIM), we interviewed older adults in King County, Washington, and their involved family and friends (FF), regarding health information (HI) sources they seek and utilize. Analysis of interview transcripts revealed four main themes: 1) older adults and FF consider healthcare providers the foundational source of HI; 2) older adults utilize FF for seeking, sharing, and interpreting HI, while FF serve as surrogate seekers and experience-based experts; 3) online searching is common for older adults and FF, but confidence in assessing the quality of online HI is often lacking; 4) a smorgasbord approach is frequently utilized by older adults and FF for gathering and clarifying HI. Design considerations include: facilitating access to quality provider-vetted HI, incorporating older adults and FF in the design process, and creating shared spaces for communication of HI among older adults, FF, and providers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Internet* / statistics & numerical data
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • MedlinePlus
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Portals
  • Search Engine
  • Washington