Relevance judgment during health information seeking on a discussion forum
Date of Issue2016
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
More and more people are seeking and accessing health information on the Internet. In addition to authoritative health information websites maintained by healthcare organizations and government agencies, social media sites are increasingly being accessed to obtain and share patients’ experiences of diseases and treatments. Various surveys have found that people are using Internet health discussion forums for both informational and emotional support. However, it is not clear what kinds of health information people find useful in health discussion forums, and what relevance criteria they use in making relevance decisions. Most of the previous studies of relevance criteria have focused on relevance judgments at the document or document surrogate level in the context of purposive information searching with an information retrieval system or search engine. Moreover, few studies have made use of an eye tracker system to investigate eye movement behaviors during information seeking and the kinds of information users focused on. The objective of this study was to identify the detailed relevance criteria people use when browsing a health discussion forum, for three categories of information needs: when seeking for their own health issue, seeking for other people’s health issue, and browsing with no particular health issue in mind. An eye tracker system was used to capture users’ eye movement behavior, and the text they skim over and focus on during browsing. These data were analyzed to find associations between users’ eye movement patterns and the relevance criteria they used. In the analysis, browsing a discussion forum was divided into two stages: scanning a set of post surrogates (post titles) in the summary result screen, and reading a detailed post content (including replies and comments from other users). Within each stage, the user will skim over some of the text or examine a text passage closely (i.e. eye fixation). By analyzing the text that people’s eyes fixated on, the types of health information used in the relevance judgment can be determined. It was found that participants with different types of health information needs (i.e. seeking for self, seeking for others, and with no particular issue) made use of different types of relevance criteria and had different eye movement patterns. Participants seeking for their own health issue used mostly cased-based relevance criteria such as symptoms, history of disease in their judgments, which took a longer time to scan post surrogates and reading the detailed posts. Participants seeking for other people were found to use mostly general knowledge-based criteria such as medical terms, cause of disease and basic treatments in their relevance judgments, with took a moderate amount of time to scan post surrogates and read post content. In contrast, participants browsing with no particular health issue used mostly their personal and general interest topics in their judgments, which took a relatively long time to scan post surrogates and to skim detailed post content.
DRNTU::Library and information science::Archives and records management::Multimedia information archival
Nanyang Technological University