Meeting health information needs of people with HIV/AIDS: sources and means of collaboration

Laura O'Grady
Health Information and Libraries Journal 2008, 25 (4): 261-9

BACKGROUND: Internet-based applications, in particular those that allow communication, have great potential to meet information needs. Limited research has indicated that people with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS; PHAs) use these technologies, but it has not yet been examined how resources are used collaboratively and in conjunction with offline sources.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine in what ways PHAs collaborate to meet treatment information needs and what role Internet-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) played in meeting this goal.

METHODS: This exploratory study was implemented using surveys and focus groups with 23 participants in Toronto, Canada. The purposive sample included men and women.

RESULTS: A variety of both off- and online resources were used to learn about HIV/AIDS treatment information, including web-based and print. All participants were communicating with others, primarily in person, and most desired anecdotal treatment information. However, few reported using CMC to accomplish this goal. Harris and Dewdney's Principles of Information Seeking was used to frame the findings.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite technical proficiency with CMC, few participants in this study reported use of this communication tool. Information professionals need to ensure access to HIV health information including those in remote areas who have fewer resources.

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