Empowered and knowledgeable health consumers

The impact of online support groups on the doctor-patient relationship

Susan Stewart Loane*, Steven D'Alessandro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Increased longevity means that many people live into their 70s, 80s and beyond, with increasing numbers living with chronic disease. The role of the Internet in the care of chronic disease has been explored within the health literature and, to a lesser extent, within the marketing literature, with recent research suggesting that around 60% of patients source internet-based information about medical conditions and treatment. This mixed-methods study explores the impact of online support groups on the doctor-patient relationship finding that participants in an online support group for inflammatory bowel disease share lay advice, empower each other and act as a credible channel for word-of-mouth referrals. The traditional asymmetric relationship between patient and doctor is challenged by this new form of educated, empowered health consumer who is able to work in partnership with medical service providers in the ongoing management of chronic illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalAustralasian Marketing Journal
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014

Keywords

  • consumer behaviour
  • consumer empowerment
  • health
  • online support group
  • virtual community

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