C34. Anigbogu, J. & Rice, R.E. (2001). Expectations and experiences of infertility information seeking via the Internet and telephone directory. In R.E. Rice & J.E. Katz (Eds.), The Internet and health communication: Expectations and experiences (pp. 121-141). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


This chapter provides two perspectives on how a person new to the Internet might experience the accessibility and usability of health information.  The first part follows a  woman as she tries to understand what appears to be a problem of infertility in her marriage.  With our help, she turned to the Internet to find resources outside of her regular doctor and her family.  As she was a complete novice at computing and Internet usage, this case study provides interesting insights into how “ordinary” people might actually first experience this new environment, rather than as utopian advertisements portray, and how this experience might change their perceptions of their problem, their health providers, and even their own relationships.  The second part considers a related dimension of this case: to what extent do traditional information resources, here the local telephone directory and hospital referrals, and new information resources, here specialized Internet lists and search engines, reflect a common physical health environment?  Is it accurate to say that the Internet is “just” a faster and easier way to find the same information?  Finally, both of these cases show that the process of using the Internet for health information is far more complex, and involves many more tacit assumptions and prior knowledge, than is typically portrayed in the media or conveyed in training materials.

    Part I:  Researching Infertility on the Net: A Case Study
A New World of Information: Changes in Personal, Family and Physician Relations
The Internet as Empowerment
    Part II: Hospital and Clinic Referrals from the Telephone Directory
Compared to Those Listed on the Internet, in the New Jersey Counties of Middlesex, Somerset, and Union
Results from the Telephone Directory
Results from the Internet
Discussion: Hospital Referral Research Vs. Computer Research
    Conclusion 

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