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Exploring the concept of ‘information need’


  • Fiona Timmins MSc BNS BSc Health & Soc(Open) FFNRCSI NFESC RNT RGN Cert.ICU/CCU-Nursing

    1. Senior Lecturer, Director BSc(Cur), School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
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Fiona Timmins, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, 24 D’olier Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Email:


Identifying information needs is frequently espoused in textbooks, policy documents and reports of research studies; provision of health-care is also now described as ‘needs-based’, rather than ‘service-based’. Yet, there is little understanding or clear definitions of this construct in the literature on the topic. The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of information need, using concept analysis, with the aim of providing greater clarity. Rodgers’ evolutionary approach to concept analysis was used to identify common attributes, antecedents and consequences, of the term information need. Information need emerged as a want or desire for information to be shared by professionals using appropriate communication skills. Information-seeking behaviour manifests in individuals as a response to a stimulus that is perceived as either a challenge or a threat. This attempt to provide a greater clarification of the term was prompted by the ubiquitous use of the term with little consistent definition. It is hoped that this conceptual clarification will guide further study in this area, particularly in relation to the subjective nature of contemporary information needs and its role in coping behaviours of individuals and groups.

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