Cancer information scanning and seeking behavior is associated with knowledge, lifestyle choices, and screening
Previous research on cancer information focused on active seeking, neglecting information gathered through routine media use or conversation (“scanning”). It is hypothesized that both scanning and active seeking influence knowledge, prevention, and screening decisions. This study uses Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS, 2003) data to describe cancer-related scanning and seeking behavior (SSB) and assess its relationship with knowledge, lifestyle behavior, and screening. Scanning was operationalized as the amount of attention paid to health topics, and seeking was defined as looking for cancer information in the past year. The resulting typology included 41% low-scan/no-seekers; 30% high-scan/no-seekers; 10% low-scan/seekers, and 19% high-scan/seekers. Both scanning and seeking were significantly associated with knowledge about cancer (B=.36; B=.34) and lifestyle choices that may prevent cancer (B=.15; B=.16) in multivariate analyses. Both scanning and seeking were associated with colonoscopy (OR = 1.38, for scanning and OR=1.44, for seeking) and with prostate cancer screening (OR=4.53, scanning; OR=10.01, seeking). Scanning was significantly associated with recent mammography (OR=1.46), but seeking was not. Individuals who scan or seek cancer information are those who acquire knowledge, adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, and get screened for cancer. Causal claims about these associations await further research.