Consumer Health Information (CHI) seeking on the Internet is becoming more popular, yet very complex as Social Q&A services emerge. Health information needs occur at various stages of health and illness. In response to the need to ensure that information provision is effective from prevention and treatment, this study attempted to uncover how health information seekers articulate their information needs. In this study, 440 health-related questions in Yahoo! Answers were first pre-identified into eight progressive stages of health information seeking. Each question was treated as an information seeking activity, and content of the question was considered as health information needs. Through analyzing questions in action, cognition, and emotion dimensions inspired by Kuhlthau's Information Seeking Process model, each question was further coded to reflect the nature of clarity, urgency, and length of information needs articulation. The findings uncover the fact that CHI seeking is multi-tasking and non-liner, and the way information seekers articulate the health information needs changes over the stages of health status. This study may inform consumer health information providers in designing services that may address the time-sensitive nature of CHI seeking.
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