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Health information on the Internet : strategies for assessing consumer needs and improving consumer information retrieval

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dc.contributor.advisor Qing T. Zeng. en_US
dc.contributor.author Plovnick, Robert M. (Robert Matthew), 1976- en_US
dc.contributor.other Harvard University--MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2005-09-27T17:12:00Z
dc.date.available 2005-09-27T17:12:00Z
dc.date.copyright 2004 en_US
dc.date.issued 2004 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/28591
dc.description Thesis (S.M.)--Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, 2004. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 67-70). en_US
dc.description.abstract Patients and their family members are increasingly turning to the Internet for health information. However, the search strategies consumers are using to obtain information are often unsuccessful. Since some patients are using the information they obtain to influence health decisions, it is increasingly important to identify strategies that aid consumer access to quality information to address their needs. Three different strategies to improve consumer health information retrieval are explored in this thesis, and suggestions for the application of these tactics and incorporation into healthcare delivery are discussed. Consumers have the option to choose between medically specific web sites and generic search engines with the whole Internet as their search space. For this project, a rigorous comparison of Internet searches in these two scopes was conducted to determine which search scope provides better returns. No statistical difference was found between the two different scopes, but several pros and cons of each were identified. Queries generated by consumers to initiate a free-text Internet search are often too short or too general to be effective. Additionally, consumers often employ vocabulary that does not match the terminology of health content. For this research, reformulation of original consumer queries using professional terminology was explored. A trend was noted towards increased search precision when substitutions were provided for lay terms, abbreviations, and acronyms, though performance often worsened when reformulated queries contained ill-fitted or arcane terminology. It is essential to study information needs to devise strategies to support consumer health information retrieval. The specific needs of asthma patients en_US
dc.description.abstract (cont.) and the extent they can be met by Internet resources are the focus of the final chapter of this thesis. To ascertain their information needs, asthma patients were interviewed before and after a clinical visit. The answers to these needs were then sought in a website limited to quality asthma content. Though many of the questions are answered during a clinical visit, a large proportion of patients leave the clinic with unanswered questions. Half of the needs expressed by patients were answered by the website. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Robert M. Plovnick. en_US
dc.format.extent 75 p. en_US
dc.format.extent 3575524 bytes
dc.format.extent 3583265 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/7582
dc.subject Harvard University--MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. en_US
dc.title Health information on the Internet : strategies for assessing consumer needs and improving consumer information retrieval en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.degree S.M. en_US
dc.contributor.department Harvard University--MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 57509021 en_US


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