Internet discussion forums: Maximizing choice in health-seeking behaviour during public health emergencies

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This paper proposes a new approach to improving our understanding of the suitability of internet discussion forums for use by health information seekers. We consider in particular their potential use during public health emergencies when access to conventional experts and healthcare professionals may be constrained. We explore potential benefits and challenges of crowdsourcing information on health issues in online environments through the context of Computer Science theories of Collective Intelligence [1, 2], which explore how members of a group - particularly when networked by computer systems - can reach a better solution than an individual working alone. We ask if online discussion forums can provide the `clever mechanism' Surowiecki [3] proposed is necessary to harness such potential group wisdom, and help health information seekers to identify the best option or `maximized choice' from a set of less-than-ideal choices [4], thus adding value to information seeking during public health emergencies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2016 International Conference On Cyber Situational Awareness, Data Analytics And Assessment (CyberSA)
EditorsCyril Onwubiko
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages104
ISBN (Print)9780993233814
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2016


  • bioinformatics
  • computer science
  • crowd-scourcing
  • Genomics
  • Collective Intelligence

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