Objective: This paper deals with the identification of the prevalence and patterns of health information needs and health information provider segmentation among chronically ill patients with comorbidities.
Methods: We synthesised the research on information needs into an integrated framework for patients with chronic disease(s) information seeking behavior. This framework explains and describes why patients need information, their motivations for seeking health information, the information needed, channels of exchange information, sources of information, outputs per patient, and difficulties patients had in getting information. We analyzed demand for health information expressed by 21810 patients with multiple chronic conditions, drawn from the latest release of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) in 2009/2010. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to identify factors associated with health information needs and practices for information seeking among people living with chronic disease comorbidities. The relationship between the number of chronic conditions and difficulties in obtaining information was examined.
Conclusion: When controlling for other variables in this study, all the usual socio-demographic characteristics of a person were strong predictors of reported health information need. However, obesity, self-health perceptions, and rating of quality of care were found not to be significant predictors of health information needs. Comorbidities tend to determine information needs: those with migraine and headache alone, arthritis and back problems, arthritis and migraine, and headache. People with two or four comorbidities are more likely to need health information than those with other combinations of diseases. Doctors were the most frequently contacted for information (77.9%), followed by health help-lines (17.9%) and walk-in clinics (17.2%). These were followed in order by others (16.9%), emergency rooms (16.5%), and other hospital services (7.3%). Chronic disease patients reported that waiting too long to speak to healthcare providers (43.5%) or to contact doctors or nurses (40.4%) were the most frequent obstacles to receiving health information.
Practice Implications: Our proposed framework can be used as a template for future data collection and method development for surveys, and potential research about health information needs for patient with chronic disease(s), as most published papers and surveys do not include questions about goals, motivations, outcomes, etc. These results and potential research aimed at providing better health care for chronically ill patients would lead to relative effectiveness research that addresses management and policy-relevant decision making in chronic care situations.
The conclusions of this study show areas where it is particularly important to improve information provision to chronically ill patients. Chronic management programs must pay more attention to providing information to patients about not just one disease, but must take into consideration specific chronic diseases and comorbidities associated with that chronic condition.