Description: This study involves the investigation of the basis and validity of considering health information as therapeutic, the definition of Information Therapy, and whether the therapeutic nature of information can be measured empirically. The purpose of the study is to determine if there are any significant differences in the therapeutic effect of Information Therapy through the different delivery modes of support groups communicating face-to-face and those utilizing computer-mediated communication on the Internet. The comparison of these groups revealed no significant differences on three measures of health: physical, mental, and social support. Because one communication medium is not found to be advantageous over the other, the use of the computer can extend the benefits of Information Therapy to the home-bound, to those in remote areas, to people with time restraints, and those who may be shy. The validity of the therapeutic nature of information was verified by participant report of the effect of a health information search. Results demonstrated that the primary source for information is the physician, followed by the Internet, and 77% of participants reported a positive or therapeutic effect when health information was found. These results are significant because individuals who are in positions to deliver Information Therapy can better meet needs by identification of the sources to which people look for information and can have a major impact on patient care and the general health of the population. Providing people with information can empower them to take an active role in their health, can increase confidence in self-care, and should provide coping and disease management skills thus decreasing the utilization of healthcare resources and preventing costly acute and chronic health complications.
Date: August 1999
Creator: Mitchell, Donna J.