To Share or Not to ShareAn Explorative Study of Health Information Non-Sharing Behaviour Among Flemish Adults Aged Fifty and Over
This study explores health information non-sharing behaviour in everyday social settings and interactions. The novelty and relevance of the study lies in the fact that it explores a common yet understudied information behaviour, as very few studies have examined information non-sharing. Forty qualitative in-depth interviews were held in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium, with adults between the ages of fifty and eighty. A contextual framework was drawn from information studies and health information and communication research, consisting of the concepts of health orientation, information avoidance, uncertainty management, to help understand health information non-sharing.Thematic analysis was employed to identify reasons for non-sharing behaviour. Seven key themes or reasons emerge for health information non-sharing behaviour;health as a non-topic, avoid being labelled as ill, individual responsibility, avoid burdening others, lack of trust in others, lack of trust in the internet, and avoiding information overload. This study is not only more nuanced than earlier work on sharing behaviour, but also leads to new questions about outcomes of health information non-sharing. The findings further illuminate ‘non-information behaviour’ within information studies, while also offering insights relevant to health communication researchers and healthcare practitioners.