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Health Information Need and Seeking of Older Adults Residing in an Independent-Living Retirement Community: A Qualitative Study

Sheri L. Edwards
Major Professor: 
Peiling Wang
May 2006

Abstract: Among the information needs experienced by older adults, health information needs consistently achieve a high ranking. The purpose of this study was to examine the health information needs of older adults residing in an independent-living retirement community, as well as the information channels they use for information. Additionally, this study explored whether information channels satisfied older adults’ health information needs. Face-to-face in-depth interviews revealed that older adults experience a variety of health information needs; the emergence of those needs is attributed to varying circumstances. While the older adults in this study often use one or more information channels to satisfy their health information needs, face-to-face contact overwhelmingly is their preferred method of obtaining health information. The circumstances under which older adults’ health information needs arise are significant to the outcome of need satisfaction. These circumstances reveal the relationship between a health information need and the information channel used to satisfy it, as well as the degree of reliability of an information channel. Satisfactory outcomes of the use of information channels were perceived by these older adults to be a direct result of successful channel interaction, although more research is needed to determine if these findings are typical.