UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The role of information in health behavior : A scoping study and discussion of major public health models Greyson, Devon; Johnson, Joy L.


Information interventions aimed at influencing health behavior are both a major element of the public health toolkit, and an area of potential interest and investigation for LIS researchers. In order to explore the conceptualization and use of information as a concept within dominant public health behavior models, and the manner in which information practices are acknowledged and handled therein, we undertook a scoping study. We scoped the explicit mention of “information” within core English-language health behavior textbooks, and examined dominant models of health behavior for information practices. Index terms within these texts indicated a lack of common language around information-related concepts. Nine models/theories were discussed in a majority of the texts. These we grouped as Stages of Change Models, Value-Expectancy Models, and Other, and examined for information-related concepts and constructs. Information was typically framed as a “thing” or resource, and information practices were commonly included and/or implied within health behavior models. However, a lack of specificity regarding the definition of information, how it differs from knowledge, and how context affects information practices, make the exact role of information within health behavior models unclear. Although public health information interventions may be grounded in behavioral theory, a limited understanding of the ways information works within the contexts of people’s real lives hinders our ability to effectively use information to intervene in the health behavior of individuals and populations. LIS can help improve understanding of the role of information in health behavior; likewise information scientists can learn from public health’s interventionist approach.

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