Pian, W., Khoo, C.S.G., & Chang, Y.K. (2014). Relevance judgment when browsing a health discussion forum: Content analysis of eye fixations. LIBRES, 24(2), 132-147. (Available at: http://libres-ejournal.info/1408/)


Introduction. People are increasingly searching and browsing for health information on social media sites. This is a small study of the relevance criteria used by laypersons when browsing a health discussion forum under three conditions—when seeking information for their own health issue, for a friend’s or relative’s health issue, and with no particular issue in mind.
Method. An eye-tracker system was used to identify what text users’ eyes were fixated on when browsing post surrogates and post content on a health discussion forum. Eye-fixations indicated the text segments that the user’s attention was focused on when making relevance judgments.
Analysis. Content analysis was performed on the text segments with eye-fixation, to identify the types of information they contain. These types of information are considered to be the direct relevance criteria used.
Results. Users seeking information for their own health issue focused on case-based information: the poster’s symptom and history of disease, demographic information, and feelings about the symptom. They also focused on descriptions of disease and treatments. Participants seeking for other people’s health issue focused on factual information: terminology, etiology and description of disease, and description of treatments. Participants browsing with no particular issue focused on topics of general interest such as smoking, and rare or unusual issues.
Conclusion. While the relevance criteria of topicality, accuracy, currency and authority are not unimportant, they are not upper-most in the minds of users when assessing information content.