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Variations in trust in Dr Google when experiencing potential breast cancer symptoms: Exploring motivations to seek health information online

Marcu, Afrodita, Black, Georgia and Whitaker, Katriina (2018) Variations in trust in Dr Google when experiencing potential breast cancer symptoms: Exploring motivations to seek health information online Health, Risk & Society, 20 (7-8). pp. 325-341.

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Abstract

How people trust the internet and seek health information online when experiencing and interpreting potential cancer symptoms is not well understood. We interviewed twenty-seven women who had recently experienced at least one potential breast cancer symptom, and explored their symptom experience, help-seeking strategies, and whether they consulted the internet in relation to their symptoms. We conducted a thematic analysis and constructed a typology of attitudes towards, and experiences of, consulting the internet about the symptoms: i) confident; ii) neutral; iii) hesitant; and iv) avoidant. ‘Hesitant’ and ‘avoidant’ participants rarely mentioned cancer explicitly, doubted being able to interpret the information found online, and expressed concerns over finding ‘scaremongering’ information or making incorrect self-diagnosis. The ‘avoiders’ and the ‘hesitant’ participants perceived online information-seeking as being inherently risky, partly because online health content is likely to be inaccurate or exaggerated, and partly because the process of lay interpretation is likely to be flawed by lack of medical expertise. The findings suggest that not all women experiencing potential breast cancer symptoms seek health information online spontaneously or trust the internet as a legitimate source of health information. The women who did engage in online information seeking, particularly those with lower education, felt unsure about how to appraise online health sources to interpret their symptoms

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Marcu, Afroditaafrodita.marcu@surrey.ac.uk
Black, Georgia
Whitaker, Katriinak.whitaker@surrey.ac.uk
Date : November 2018
Funders : Cancer Research UK
DOI : 10.1080/13698575.2018.1550742
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Health, Risk & Society on 27 November 2018, and will be available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/chrs20/current 10.1080/13698575.2018.1550742
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 23 Oct 2018 11:20
Last Modified : 21 Mar 2019 12:32
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/849758

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