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Trends, opportunities and risks of online health information search

On going


PhD project: Trends, opportunities and risks of online health information search
Reference: SFRH/BD/148257/2019
Supervisor: Alexandra Lopes (FLUP); José Manuel Azevedo (FLUP)
Timeline: September 2019-October 2022

Abstract: The ongoing research focuses on the use of the Internet for health issues, from the perspective of the lay user, according to three major topics: 1) search, adoption and sharing of health-related information; 2) cyberchondria (as an extreme and “problematic” modality of that search /behaviour); 3) health-related online solidarities. This research covers a broad analysis that intersects various sociological domains, including health and sickness, but also social movements, citizen participation and protagonism in health, reconfigurations of solidarity and citizenship in the digital society, among others; and social inequalities, as a consolidated and structuring field of sociological research, in the framework of web-iniquities in health – digital divide in health and digital inequality(ies) in health. The two-stage and multi-strategic project will involve a study design that is simultaneously positivist and interpretative-phenomenological, in a mixed-methods methodology, using questionnaire survey techniques (in a 1st phase) and semi-structured interviews and/or focal groups (n a 2nd phase). The aim is to capture profiles of users/consumers of health information on the Internet and to understand search typologies, patterns, trends and contexts, daily appropriations of the information found, among other dimensions that form this behaviour, and cover (individually or in a group) (web)biographies, meanings and senses, situated and embedded web-based experiences that offer individual/group subjectivities. The study covers the city and municipality of Chaves (area of residence of the principal investigator).

End beneficiaries/target population: Broad set of stakeholders: academic and scientific community; health institutions and health professionals; public decision makers; patient organisations; civil society

Research Group:
Instituição proponente: Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto (FLUP)
Instituição de acolhimento: Instituto de Sociologia da Universidade do Porto (IS-UP)
Entidade de Financiamento
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. (FCT)
Start Year


Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto
Via Panorâmica, s/n
4150-564 Porto, Portugal

Phone: +351 226 077 132


Other Contacts




Ref. UIDP/00727/2020

Ref. UIDB/00727/2020