Health Information Seeking Behaviour in Bangladesh: Role of Virtual and Real-life Social Networks


Information is the basis on any decision making process. In the case of health related knowledge, attitude and decision making process, people depend on the safe and trustworthy health information available. Studies have shown that social networks in the form of families, friends and relatives, play significant role in providing health information (LaJoie & Ridner, 2009; Riahi et al., 2015; Owusu-Addo et al., 2016). But little is known about the topic from the context of Bangladesh. This study will investigate the role social networks, both real-life and virtual, play in the lives of Bangladeshis for their health related information. Social network theory will be employed to understand the structure and function of type of social networks people depend on for health information. Both personal and formal social networks will be studied. Friends, families and relatives are known as having strong ties and thus they form personal social networks. Formal social networks are referred to those who fall into the category of mosque, temple or church leaders, pharmacists, NGO workers, health professionals. Also those who fall into the category of semi-personal-formal, where one is relative but also professionally a health staff or pharmacist. Hence, within these social networks, the type of ties (strong or weak ties) people rely on will also be analysed. Along with that an attempt will be made to highlight the health related reasons for which they rely on certain type of social networks. Semi-structured interview among 150 Bangladeshis will be conducted to examine the pattern of seeking support from their social networks. Bangladeshis between the ages of 18 to 50 years will be selected for the survey through snowball sampling. The health information seeking behaviour among older and younger generation will be identified by including both male and female Bangladeshis from various age groups. With the insight about the structure and function of social network, the health policy makers, government and non-government organisations will be able to develop awareness programs targeted towards the concerned information seekers. Access and availability to accurate health information are necessary in developing countries like Bangladesh where literacy is a problem. Moreover, the findings will also contribute to the understanding of informal referral system in healthcare of the country.

Works cited

LaJoie, A., & Ridner, S. (2009). Health information and health risk behaviors in a sample of college students. The Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association., 107(2), 58-63.

Owusu-Addo, S. B., Owusu-Addo, E., & S.K.Morhe, E. (2016). Health information-seeking behaviours among pregnant teenagers in Ejisu-Juaben Municipality, Ghana. Midwifery, 41, 110-117.

Riahi, A., Hariri, N., & Nooshinfard, F. (2015). Study of health Information needs and barriers to access among afghan and iraqi immigrants in Iran. Journal of North Khorasan University of Medical Sciences, 7(3), 597-610.