Characterizing Online Health and Wellness Information Consumption: A Study

Aastha Nigam, Reid A. Johnson, Dong Wang, Nitesh V. Chawla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To seek answers to health queries, we often find ourselves on a quest to assimilate information from varied online sources. This information search and fusion from different sources elicits user preferences, which can be driven by demographics, context, and socio-economic factors. To that end, we study these factors as part of health-information seeking behavior of users on a large health and wellness-based knowledge sharing online platform. We begin by identifying the topical interests of users from different content consumption sources. Using these topical preferences, we explore information consumption and health-seeking behavior across three contextual dimensions: user-based demographic attributes, time-related features, and community-based socioeconomic factors. We then study how these context signals can be used to explain specific user health topic preferences. Our findings suggest that linking demographic features to user profiles is more effective in explaining health preferences than other features. Our work demonstrates the value of using contextual factors to characterize and understand the content consumption of users seeking health and wellness information online.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-43
Number of pages11
JournalInformation Fusion
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Content consumption
  • Factorization models
  • Online health seeker
  • User behavioral analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture


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