Research Alert

Background: High-quality online health information (OHI) can reduce unnecessary visits to health professionals and improve health. One of the ways that people use OHI is to support others with health conditions through proxy OHI seeking. Members of a person’s social circle may help them overcome information-seeking barriers and illness challenges. There are several models on proxy information seeking. Yet, we know little about the use and outcomes of OHI on behalf of someone else. Objective: The objectives of this paper are to explore and revise a framework on the context and outcomes of proxy OHI seeking Methods: We conducted a mixed studies literature review integrating qualitative and quantitative evidence with thematic analysis of the findings of 28 studies, followed by framework synthesis incorporating the derived themes. Results: We explored 4 main themes: (1) characteristics of proxy seekers, (2) context of proxy OHI seeking, (3) use of OHI to provide social support, and (4) outcomes of proxy OHI seeking. Our conceptual framework incorporates these themes and builds on previous work. Conclusions: By better understanding how people use information together, information providers can adapt the information to meet all users’ needs.

Journal Link: Journal of Medical Internet Research

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Journal of Medical Internet Research