How Is She? Information and the Surgical Waiting Lounge

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Diana L. Ascher, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
This descriptive ethnographic analysis examines the information-seeking behavior of people in the Surgical Waiting Lounge at the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion in December 2013. Following a description of the environment and individuals within and directly surrounding the space called “Surgical Waiting Lounge” on the third floor of the medical building located at 1600 S. Divisadero Street in San Francisco, I present a model of information-seeking behavior in this specific context and examine the primary aspects of the model in relation to the preeminent information-seeking behavior theories, frameworks, and approaches. Finally, I discuss how information seeking in this context elicits aspects of behavior akin to that of crisis situations and their concomitant hierarchical, task-related information provision. As active information seeking by those inhabiting the Surgical Waiting Lounge is inhibited, a hyper-vigilant mode of information acquisition arises that serves multiple purposes: restores a sense of control, allows for a means of active information gleaning that does not impede on the professionals at work, elicits a sensitivity to others, and provides a focus for attention.