Objectives: The aim of this review is to discuss how existing models of information behaviour may help to improve provision of information to carers of people with dementia. The article analyses existing models of information behaviour derived from information science, describes studies that have examined these models in relation to health and discusses ways in which they help to understand the information behaviours of carers of people with dementia.
Methods: A comprehensive review of the literature on studies of information needs and a critical examination of models of information behaviours in relation to health were undertaken.
Results: Two dominant paradigms in information science research were identified, involving system-centred and user-centred approaches. System-centred approaches and studies are limited in that they have made assumptions on the types of information that people may require, the way in which information should be provided, the timing of information provision and have homogenous treated groups, failing to take account of individual preferences. In contrast, user-centred approaches recognise the unique needs of individuals and that information needs are subjective and affected by a variety of factors. User-centred models of information behaviour, particularly Dervin's sense-making theory and Wilson's Information Seeking Behaviour Models, could be useful in developing a better understanding of the information behaviours of carers of people with dementia.
Conclusion: Adopting a user-centred approach to study the information behaviours of carers of people with dementia will take account of individual needs. Testing existing models of information behaviour within this group may help to develop interventions to meet the needs of individual carers and people with dementia.