Kaitlin L. Costello

Kaitlin L.

Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science


SC&I 305

Kaitlin L. Costello studies health information practices online and primarily uses the grounded theory methodology. Costello's research is concerned with questions of power, autonomy, and the biopolitics of health information practices. They also explore how people assess relevance and credibility of health information, and the role of epistemic privilege/authority in those assessments.Costello regularly teaches human information behavior, critical algorithm studies, and health sciences information at Rutgers.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ph.D., Information and Library Science

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., Library and Information Science

Vassar College
B.A., Film


Kaitlin L. Costello's research focuses on social information seeking in the context of health. She is specifically interested in how patients diagnosed with chronic conditions use the internet to search for health information, how they assess the relevance of health information provided by other patients, and how online information is used over the health trajectory. She has conducted a variety of studies in this area, covering topics such as:

  • how people use Facebook to find kidney donors, using qualitative methods;
  • racial disparities in conversations about cancer on Twitter, using natural language processing techniques;
  • methods patients use to assess the relevance of health information posted by other patients online;
  • a quality analysis of information about kidney disease on static health websites;
  • personal health records information sharing.

Her current research projects include an examination of the interaction between social support and information avoidance in patients on dialysis using personal network analysis; a study that takes a qualitative approach to interactive information retrieval research with people diagnosed with chronic pain; and a systematic review of the information science literature focused on patient/provider communication about online health information. 

Centers, Labs, Working Groups, and Clusters

Selected Publications

Costello, K. L., & Veinot, T. C. (2020). A spectrum of approaches to health information interaction: From avoidance to verification. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 71(8), 871-886.

Costello, K.L. & Floegel, D. (2020). "Predictive ads are not doctors": Mental health tracking and technology companies. Proceedings of the 83rd Association for Information Science and Technology 83rd Annual Meeting. Oct 23-28, 2020. Virtual conference due to covid-19. [2020 SIG-USE Early Career Best Paper Award.]

Costello, K. L. (2019). Quality of medical advice for chronic pain on social platforms. In Proceedings of the 82nd Annual ASIS&T Meeting. Oct 19 - 23, 2019. Melbourne, Australia.

Costello, K. L. (2018). The burden of empowerment: Information work in online health communities. In T. Correia & V. Carvalho da Silva (Eds.), Old tensions, emerging paradoxes in health: Rights, knowledge, and trust. The 17th European Society for Health and Medical Sociology Biennial Conference, Lisbon, Portugal: CIES, ISCTE-IUL.

Costello, K. L. (2017). Social relevance assessments for virtual worlds: Interpersonal source selection in the context of chronic illness. Journal of Documentation, 73(6), 1209-1227.

Awards & Recognitions

2020   ASIS&T SIG-USE Early Career Best Paper Award

2020   Outstanding Faculty Support to the Rutgers Graduate Community, Rutgers University Graduate Student Association

2019   ASIS&T SIG-USE Elfreda A. Chatman Research Award

2018   Research Section Award Honorable Mention, Medical Library Associatio

2014   Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Award

2013   Thomson Reuters Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Award

Research Keywords