Health information seeking by women with physical disabilities: A qualitative analysis

Rosemary B. Hughes, Leanne Beers, Susan Robinson-Whelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Health information seeking is critical to medical decision-making and optimal health. Although researchers have begun to explore how people with disabilities search for health information, no studies have investigated health information seeking by women with physical disabilities. Objective: The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the health information seeking experiences of women with physical disabilities. Method: We conducted a series of semi-structured, online focus group meetings with 21 women with disabilities. Sessions were recorded and transcribed, and data were analyzed using conventional content analysis. Results: Two broad themes emerged: 1) pathways to information on general health; sexual and reproductive health; as well as bowel, bladder, and other pelvic health issues; and 2) perceived facilitators and barriers to obtaining health information. Information pathways differed by the type of information sought. Internet was a commonly used resource, with a high value placed on social media interaction among peers. Self-advocacy emerged as a prominent facilitator of health information seeking. Barriers identified were lack of disability-related education, limited accessibility, and providers’ negative attitudes. Conclusion: This is the first known in-depth qualitative exploration of health information seeking by women with disabilities. Study findings revealed pathways to information commonly used by women with disabilities. The study also identified notable gaps and challenges to health information seeking including the need for improved provider education and training. Findings highlight the importance of the availability and accessibility of high quality, health-related information essential for the health and well-being of women with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101268
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Disability
  • Health information
  • Information seeking behaviors
  • Qualitative research
  • Women


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