Age-related Differences in Seeking Clarification to Understand Medical Record Information

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Tue, 06/19/2018 - 16:04

A presentation with Noora Hirvonen, Heidi Enwald, Joonas Moll, Rose-Mharie Åhlfelt and Åsa Cajander at the ISIC 2018 Information Behaviour Conference in Krakow.


Introduction. Patient accessible electronic health records can be used to inform and empower patients. However, their use may require complementary information seeking since they are often difficult to interpret. So far, relatively little is known of the information seeking that takes place in connection to health record use, and especially the way it varies in different age groups. A better understanding of patients’ preferences of where and how to find explanatory information provides valuable input for the development of health information provision and counselling services. 
Method. The analysis is based on the results of a national survey of Swedish individuals (N=1,411) who had used a national patient accessible electronic health record system (Journalen). 
Analysis.The data were analysed in SPSS 24.0 using Kruskal-Wallis tests for detecting group-wise differences and Jonckheere-Terpstra tests for discovering age-related trends in the data. 
Results. Older patients were more likely to use a telephone to ask for clarification whereas younger ones are more likely to use social contacts. Telephone use and, partly, searching information individually could be habits of the present older and younger generations. As a whole, older adults born between 1946-1960 appear as passive information seekers.
Conclusion. Age groups differ in their preferences on how to seek clarification, which underlines the importance of a better understanding of individual differences in delivering not only technically but also intellectually accessible health information.

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