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Qual Health Res. 2005 Mar;15(3):325-45.

Virtually he@lthy: the impact of internet use on disease experience and the doctor-patient relationship.

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1
School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

Abstract

In the current study, the author explores the complex effects and contradictory roles of the Internet as a source of empowerment and control, and as a site of "risk management." Drawing on a study of the Internet usage of Australian men with prostate cancer, the author investigates how access to information and online support affects men's experiences of disease and, in particular, the possible implications of Internet-informed patients for the doctor-patient relationship. The data reveal that accessing information and/or support online can have a profound effect on men's experiences of prostate cancer, providing a method of taking some control over their disease and limiting inhibitions experienced in face-to-face encounters. However, it is also clear that some medical specialists view Internet-informed patients as a challenge to their power within medical encounters and, as a result, employ disciplinary strategies that reinforce traditional patient roles and alienate patients who use the Internet.

PMID:
15761103
DOI:
10.1177/1049732304272916
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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