Publication Details

Ellis, J., Mullan, J., Worsley, A. & Pai, N. Brahmavar. (2012). The role of health literacy and social networks in arthritis patient's health information-seeking behaviour: a qualitative study. International Journal of Family Medicine, ID: 397039 1-6.


Background. Patients engage in health information-seeking behaviour to maintain their wellbeing and to manage chronic diseases such as arthritis. Health literacy allows patients to understand available treatments and to critically appraise information they obtain from a wide range of sources. Aims. To explore how arthritis patients’ health literacy affects engagement in arthritis-focused health information-seeking behaviour and the selection of sources of health information available through their informal social network. Methods. An exploratory, qualitative study consisting of one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Twenty participants with arthritis were recruited from community organizations. The interviews were designed to elicit participants’ understanding about their arthritis and arthritis medication and to determine how the participants’ health literacy informed selection of where they found information about their arthritis and pain medication. Results. Participants with low health literacy were less likely to be engaged with health information-seeking behaviour. Participants with intermediate health literacy were more likely to source arthritis-focused health information from newspapers, television and within their informal social network. Those with high health literacy sourced information from the internet and specialist health sources and were providers of information within their informal social network. Conclusion. Health professionals need to be aware that levels of engagement in health information-seeking behaviour and sources of arthritis-focused health information may be related to their patients’ health literacy.



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