Adapting Information Search Tools for use by Health Consumers: Challenges and Lessons for Software Designers

Mario A. Hernández, Joseph Sharit, Peter Pirolli, Sara J. Czaja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Consumers are increasingly using the Internet to find information to support health-related decisions. This study evaluated two software tools, Mr. Taggy and, which are designed to help users filter and identify relevant information and organize and make sense of information. Participants included 80 adults, aged 35–82, who performed health information search tasks. Twenty participants used Mr. Taggy and another 20 used The search tasks varied according to the tool characteristics. Two corresponding control groups, each with 20 participants, performed the tasks using the Google search engine. Participants also completed cognitive ability tests and a usability questionnaire. The findings indicated that participants using the tools found them useful and usable. However, participants using Google had significantly better task performance. Although cognitive abilities were related to task performance, a wider variety of abilities were related to performance in the aided conditions compared with the unaided conditions. The findings underscore the importance of ensuring that the cognitive demands associated with software tools do not outweigh the benefits of these tools, especially for users who are not highly practiced at using them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-456
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 4 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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