Beyond Depth and Breadth: Taking “Types” of Health Information Sought into Consideration with Cluster Analysis

Jiyeon So, Jeongyoun Ahn, Mengfei Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Online health information-seeking behavior (OHIS) has been typically operationalized in an aggregate form representing either depth (e.g., how long) or breadth (e.g., how much) of seeking, which is irrespective of what types of information are sought. Recognizing limitations of such practice, this research employs cluster analysis to reflect the content and types of health information sought in studying OHIS. Three online studies providing participants with opportunities to actually seek information about meningitis (Study 1; N = 408), Alzheimer’s disease (Study 2; N = 190), and cancer (Study 3; N = 208) recorded the participants’ information-seeking activities unobtrusively. Across the three studies, cluster analysis identified three common clusters representing distinctive information-seeking patterns (i.e., combinations of different types of information sought): One cluster sought information on “overview,” the second one focused on “protection” information, and the third cluster sought “all” types of information provided. The relative preference for these types of information was predicted by several antecedents of information-seeking behavior proposed in Comprehensive Model of Information Seeking (CMIS) including age, fear, self- and response-efficacy. The findings demonstrate the utility of taking the actual content or types of health information sought into consideration and suggest several fruitful avenues it paves for future research on OHIS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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