Health Information Use in Primary Care

Thanks to technology, information pertaining to our health is available at almost any time. People without medical training can read about their symptoms and form their own diagnoses. This means that there are now two separate, sometimes conflicting, opinions in a typical family physician appointment. The process an individual goes through to seek, make sense of, and apply health information is subject to a wide range of influences and forces.

The primary care patient-provider health information process

To better understand how health information may influence a typical appointment, and produce the visual above, the following took place:

View the final diagram here.


conducted to scope the system and identify forces influencing health information use and the family physician patient interaction.


The system was visualized as a system dynamics map showcasing the forces effecting the seeking, sense-making and application of health information; and how that influences an idealized family physician patient interaction.


A draft of the map was presented to a family physician from Alberta, CA. Feedback was given about the accuracy of the identified factors and the appointment process.

Using behaviour change frameworks, the visualization is intended to support the framing of physician and patient interventions to target context-specific influences. Through the Behaviour Change wheel (Michie et al., 2014), system- or individual-level interventions can be chosen according to context needs.