Although many information behavior studies have investigated the wide array of sources people turn to when they have a health-related information need, very few have looked at the roles played by the body in these processes. Drawing on a mixed-method exploration of the information behaviors of people with type 2 diabetes, this study identifies the important roles played by an individual’s own body (i.e., informant, motivator, demotivator, and barrier) and by the bodies of other people with diabetes (i.e., comrades/mentors, role models, galvanizers, inhibitors, inspirations, and potential mentees). One of the most significant findings is that a person’s own body and the bodies of others with diabetes can fuel incognizance (an enduring unawareness that one has a particular information need), information avoidance, and information nonuse; however, they also can interrupt incognizance, illuminating information needs and motivating information seeking and use. We propose a novel model of body-related information behavior and discuss the possibility that body-related information behaviors may not only affect an individual’s health trajectory but also reinforce health disparities within disadvantaged communities. In conclusion, we recommend strategies for ensuring everyone has optimal opportunities to benefit from body-related information behaviors and to live a long and healthy life.


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pp. 289-314
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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