Children, Youth, Families & Schools, Nebraska Center for Research on



Antover P. Tuliao

Document Type


Date of this Version



Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science (2022) 7:198–210

PMCID: PMC8758187


© The Author(s)


Based on decision sciences and information processing theories, how information is acquired is the foundation of decisions and choices subsequently made. Adapting the Active Information Search methodology, the aim for this study is to examine what information potential mental health clients look for in a service provider through their use of search strings. College students (N = 519) from a large public university from the southwest USA (data collection from August to December 2018) were asked in an online survey to imagine themselves needing mental health services and list down the search string they would use in a search engine (e.g., Google). Content analysis indicated seven search string categories: location of nearby services, symptoms, types of services/specialty, asking for advice, questions about resources, questions about whether they have a problem, and looking for the “best.” Further, multivariate logistic analysis indicated that gender, psychological distress, perceived normativeness of utilizing mental health services, and type of medical insurance were associated with the type of search string the participant used in searching for mental health services. Understanding how individuals search for mental health services can help guide mental health practitioners in what information should be included in their websites. Further findings and implications are discussed.