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Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Apr;83(1):113-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.05.029.

An investigation into the empowerment effects of using online support groups and how this affects health professional/patient communication.

Author information

1
Institute of Work Health and Organisations, University of Nottingham, UK. k.bartlett@leeds.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The current research investigates the potential of online support groups (OSGs) to foster empowerment and how membership might affect the patient/health professional relationship.

METHODS:

246 participants across 33 OSGs completed an online questionnaire.

RESULTS:

All empowerment processes and outcomes identified by van Uden-Kraan et al. [1] were found to be present. All empowerment outcomes were adequately predicted by empowerment processes. The majority (82.2%) of participants had discussed information found online with their health professional and most (74.2%) were satisfied with the response. Around 60% of participants felt membership of an OSG had affected the relationship with their health professional and from qualitative responses the effects were mostly positive.

CONCLUSION:

OSGs have the potential to produce empowerment outcomes for those who choose to use them. Furthermore, users report a positive reaction to information found online from their health professionals.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Although not all patients will benefit from using OSGs, health professionals suggesting their use could ensure that they reach the maximum receptive audience. Furthermore, this research could be used to encourage a more 'net friendly' attitude amongst health professionals.

PMID:
20599338
DOI:
10.1016/j.pec.2010.05.029
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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