Individual goals of health information seeking have been widely neglected by previous research, let alone systematically assessed. Identifying these goals, however, would facilitate meeting patients´ and relatives´ health information needs by providing information tailored to their respective goals.
We developed the 16-item Goals Associated with Health Information Seeking (GAINS) questionnaire measuring the four goals ‘understanding’, ‘action planning’, ‘hope’, and ‘reassurance’ on four scales (see Figure 1 for sample items), and additionally, a general need for health information. The goals are differentiated by coping focus (i.e. problem versus emotion) and by regulatory focus (i.e. promotion versus prevention; see Figure 2).
Methods and results:
We conducted two studies with independent samples to assess the psychometric properties of the questionnaire. In the first study (N = 150), reliability of the scales was adequate, and all items had a satisfying discriminatory power. We eliminated three of the original 19 items for reasons of parsimony. Factorial validity was corroborated by an acceptable model fit in a confirmatory factor analysis. In the second study (N = 283), the GAINS again proved to be reliable and the proposed factor structure was replicated. Nomological relationships with personality as well as situational variables provided evidence for construct validity.
The GAINS is a reliable and valid assessment tool. It may assist patients in finding out about their motivation to search for specific health information in a particular context, which could lead to a more precise search and to personally satisfying results. Practitioners and researchers may draw on the GAINS to develop information material and to provide information tailored to their patients´ individual needs.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:
We did not involve current patients in our research.