Dissertation Information for Lynda M. Baker
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: The information needs and information-seeking patterns of women coping with and adjusting to multiple sclerosis
Abstract: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease with an unpredictable course and no known cause or cure. Coping strategies of people with MS may therefore yield insights into information-seeking patterns. This study of information preferences was based on Miller's (1980) theory of information-seeking, which states that some people (monitors) cope by actively seeking information, while others (blunters) reject information. In this study, 251 female MS clinic patients were classified through the Miller Behavioral Style Scale (MBSS) as either monitors or blunters and by the length of time since diagnosis. It was hypothesized that monitors (in contrast to blunters) would be more interested in information regardless of phase of the disease, format or specificity of information. In Part One of this study, 160 women completed a mail survey designed to assess their interest in and desire for information on 29 topics relevant to MS, as well as the preferred formats of this information. The results revealed that monitors expressed preferences for more information than did blunters in earlier phases of the disease, while blunters became interested and wanted information in later phases of the disease. Videos, magazines, pamphlets and books were the most preferred formats for information on multiple sclerosis. Physicians and spouses were the most common human resources, though preferences varied with topic and format. In Part Two, an additional 93 women with MS, also classified as monitors or blunters were asked to assess a general or a specific pamphlet on one of two topics (fatigue or treatment of acute attacks). More monitors than blunters rated the pamphlet they had received as relevant, regardless of the specificity of information. This study contributes to the development of a methodology for studying information-seeking patterns and suggests that information providers (e.g., MS societies, health care professionals and librarians) may need to consider general orientation to information as well as phase of the disease in order to meet the information needs of women with MS.
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