• Article

Examining the dimensions of cancer-related information seeking and scanning behavior

Recent decades have witnessed a growing emphasis on patients as active consumers of health information. The literature about cancer-related information focuses on active and purposeful information seeking, but a great deal of exposure to cancer-relevant information may happen less purposively (termed information scanning). This article presents results from an in-depth interview study that examined information seeking and scanning behavior in the context of cancer prevention and screening decisions among a diverse sample of people living in a major metropolitan area. Results suggest that information scanning is quite common, particularly for information related to screening tests. Information seeking is rarer and occurs primarily among those who also are information scanners. Respondents report using a greater variety of sources for information scanning than for information seeking, but participants were much more likely to report that their decisions were influenced by information received through seeking than through scanning. These findings shed new light on how individuals navigate the media environment and suggest future research should examine predictors and effects of less purposeful efforts to obtain cancer-related information


Niederdeppe, J., Hornik, RC., Kelly, B., Frosch, DL., Romantan, A., Stevens, RS., ... Weiner, JL. (2007). Examining the dimensions of cancer-related information seeking and scanning behavior. Health Communication, 22(2), 153-167. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410230701454189