Kaitlin Costello studies how patients with chronic illnesses seek out, use, and disclose health information in online communities, on social media, and in clinical settings. They also investigate how patients assess the relevance and credibility of health information in these contexts. Their research program advances the use of qualitative methods and the constructivist grounded theory methodology to develop and extend theory in library and information science. Costello regularly teaches classes in human information behavior, health sciences information, and algorithms and society 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, Certificate of Special Collections
Costello studies health information behavior and practice in social settings. Their work focuses on how patients diagnosed with chronic health conditions use the internet to search for health information, how patients assess the relevance of health information provided by other patients, and how patients communicate about this information with their healthcare providers. They have conducted studies on a wide range of topics, including (but not limited to):
- People’s attitudes towards contact tracing and digital phenotyping in mental health;
- The health information seeking behaviors of patients on dialysis;
- Personal health information sharing and disclosure on social media;
- Emotional labor and its relationship to social constructions of relevance and credibility;
- Health information quality in online support groups for chronic pain;
- Using social media to find a kidney donor.
Costello also advances the use of the constructivist grounded theory methodology in library and information science. Their work focuses on how feminist technoscience can guide the methodological choices we make as researchers when studying sociotechnical phenomena, like information behaviors and practices. They regularly conduct workshops and give lectures on the constructivist grounded theory methodology and qualitative methods.
Centers, Labs, Working Groups, and Clusters
- Social Media & Society Cluster
- Health and Wellness Cluster
- Behavioral Informatics Lab
- Community Design for Health and Wellness (CDHW)
Costello, K.L. & Floegel, D. (2021). The potential of feminist technoscience for advancing research in information practice. Journal of Documentation, 77(5), 1142-1153.
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. (2017) Social relevance assessments for virtual worlds: Interpersonal source selection in the context of chronic illness. Journal of Documentation, 73(6), 1209-1227.
Costello, K.L., Martin, J.D., III., Edwards, A.E. (2017). Online disclosure of illicit information: Information behaviors in two drug forums. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 68(10), 2439-2448.
Costello, K.L. (2016). Impact of patient-provider communication on online health information behaviors in chronic illness. In Proceedings of the 79th ASIS&T Annual Meeting. Oct 14-18, 2016. Copenhagen, DK.
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 Association
2014 Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Award
2013 Thomson Reuters Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Award