Query Behavior: The Impact of Health Literacy, Topic Familiarity and Terminology
We conducted a user study to analyze how health literacy, topic familiarity and the terminology used in past queries affect query behavior in health searches. We found that users with inadequate health literacy have less success in web searches and show more difficulties in query formulation. These users and the ones not familiar with the topic use medico-scientific terminology less often than users with more health literacy and topic familiarity. We conclude that search engines should help these groups of users in query formulation and, since technical documents stimulate the use of medico-scientific terminology in query reformulation, mechanisms like query suggestion can have long-term benefits.
KeywordsWeb search query formulation health literacy topic familiarity user study
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