A study funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council “…examined the internet search strategies of people who wanted to find specific health information on topics such as high blood pressure, the menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). ”
Among the interesting findings:
“Often [NHS Web sites] were rejected because the first page participants were directed to was a portal or they had too much background or generic content.”
“…even if a site made a favourable first impression, it was unlikely to keep the attention if it did not include personal stories to which the reader could relate.
Many were specifically drawn to sites where they could read about the experiences of other people who have the same problems and concerns. “
I suppose none of this is really surprising, but it is an excellent reminder that consumers do not search for or evaluate information on the Web the way health car professionals do (or at least should).
This all makes me think of Women’s Health News, a consumer health news blog written by Rachel Walden, a medical librarian. I think a great part of Rachel’s success as a blogger is that her blog really does have this personal voice. Rachel comes across as a likeable, funny, real person to whom readers can relate, while at the same time offering lots of expertly-filtered, reliable information about women’s health issues.
Perhaps medical libraries with Web pages devoted to consumer health information can take a lesson from the BBC article and Rachel’s example to better reach and assist health care consumers.