Taking health information behaviour into account: implications of a neglected element for successful implementation of consumer health technologies on older adults (HIBA)

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Mon, 06/27/2016 - 13:16

Poster "Taking Health Information Behaviour into Account: implications of a neglected element for success-ful implementation of consumer health technologies on older adults (HIBA)" at the CoLIS9 conference in Uppsala, Sweden on Taking health behaviour into account (HIBA) project.



Many e-health services and technologies have not been successful in bringing sustainable innovations into health care practices. The state-of-the-art e-health research has underlined the need for a new, holistic approach to the development of technologies that addresses “the complexity of health care and the rituals and habits of patients and other stakeholders.” (van Gemert-Pijnen et al., 2011). E- health services and technologies often fail to acknowledge the interdependency of technology, socioeconomic environment and the entire spectrum of citizens’ health information behaviour. Consumer health technologies have extensively been created assuming that presumptive users can identify their health needs and have the ability to receive, understand, prioritize and access resources to meet them (Hesse & Shneiderman, 2007). It has, however, become clear that a “one size fits all” approach has a limited impact (Colineau & Paris, 2009; Enwald et al., 2013).

The project Taking Health Information Behaviour into Account: Implica- tions of a Neglected Element for Successful Implementation of Consumer Health Technologies on Older Adults (HIBA) aims at studying how citizens’ health in- formation behaviour influences the use of consumer health technologies and how these technologies can be effectively tailored to fit the everyday health informa- tion behaviours and practices of a growing ageing population suffering from a chronic condition to complement, substitute, and add personal and societal value to traditional health services.

Research problem and objectives

The objective is to develop comprehensible, manageable and, in particular, more meaningful and user friendly e-health services in the future. The projects addresses three specific questions of 1) How do older adults (born 1946–1960) with a chronic condition experience the usefulness, effectiveness, trustworthiness and privacy of e-health services? 2) Do existing e-health services have an impact on issues related to older adults health information behaviour?, and 3) How can e-health services be tailored to effectively fit older adults everyday health infor- mation behaviour? What are characteristic features of such tailored services? Each of the research questions correspond with a specific work package WP1: Experienced quality and relevance WP2: Impact and expectations of e-health services and WP3: Engagement.


The project employs a mix of relevant, well-tested and robust qualitative and quantitative methods to get both a deep and broad understanding of the premises of the tailoring and targeting of e-health services to older adults with a chronic condition. The project combines action research (with an aim of informing the 1) development and 2) evidence-informed utilization of e-health services), systematic review (WP3), focus group interviews (WP1), semi-structured in- terviews (WP2), survey re-search (WP1-3), and observation of practices in the studied contexts (WP2). The user preferences and viewpoints are stud-ied in WP1 using Q-methodology (Watts & Stenner, 2005). The survey data will be analysed using multivariate statistics (all researchers have experience of quan- titative research and the whole group can benefit of Ek’s indepth experience of statistical analysis). Qualitative data analysis will be based on systematic rule-guided qualitative content analysis and in case of Q data, on statistical factor analysis. In contrast to positivist assumptions of being able to directly ask informants about the characteristics of a high quality service, the focus of the analysis of interview data is on interrogating of how the informants describe their activities and experiences, and mapping of these individual activities and their stated purposes to the broader picture of the health information behaviour.


The major conceptual and theoretical contribution of the project is to provide a holistic point of view on e-Health, the use and users of e-health services that acknowledges the interdependency of human information behaviour, technology, and the socioeconomic environment, which has been lacking from previous re- search. The findings inform research in the field of health information behaviour and e-health, but also on related fields from medical informatics to HCI, public health and computer science. The practical significance of the project is in that using action research approach it provides directly applicable information on user practices and the actual utility value of the studied e-health services that can be used in improving existing services and developing new ones.


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  • Enwald, H. P., Kortelainen, T., Leppäluoto, J., Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi, S., Jämsä, T., Oinas-Kukkonen, H., Herzig, K.-H. & Huotari, M.-L. A. (2013). Perceptions of fear appeal and preferences for feedback in tailored health communication: an explorative study among pre-diabetic individuals. Infor- mation Research, 18(3). Retrieved from http://informationr.net/ir/18-3/paper584.html
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