A Grounded Theory Study on Health Information Seeking Behavior of Iranian Diabetic Patients

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D. Student in Medical Library and Information Sciences Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Associate Professor, Medical Informatics Research Center, Institute for Futures Studies in Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran



Background: Diabetes is a chronic and metabolic disease with a steadily increasing prevalence. Patients’ higher level of health information has positive effect on self-care and control of conditions. The aim of this study was to investigate the information seeking behavior of patients with diabetes in Kerman through applying a grounded theory approach.
Method: This qualitative study was conducted through applying a grounded theory approach using Corbin and Strauss (2008) method. To ensure of the accuracy and reliability of the qualitative data, Corbin and Strauss (2008) criteria were used. Eighteen diabetic patients were included in the study based on a purposive sampling. Semi-structured interviews were done in diabetes and healthcare centers in June 2019.
Results: The analysis of the data resulted in 45 primary categories, 17 subcategories and 5 major categories. The five main categories were: 1) recognizing the information needs to live well with disease, 2) acquiring health information literacy (the core variable), 3) information seeking barriers, 4).supportive information directing factors 5) empowerment. The main concern of the patients was “disease management and healthcare”. The main strategy to overcome it was health information acquisition. Information seeking obstacles had caused insufficient information, distrust, and information evasion; while, supportive information directing factors had facilitated the process and increased the patients’ health literacy. Finally, the interaction between these variables had led to the patients’ empowerment.
Conclusion: This study showed that there are various interactive factors centered on “health information acquisition” that influence health information seeking behavior of diabetic patients. The policy-makers can design optimal health information systems and effectively transmit health information to patients to increase their health information literacy, self-care, disease control and healthcare costs reduction. The findings can help diabetic patients to have access to the more proper information they need.


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