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Soc Sci Med. 2011 Jan;72(1):49-53. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.10.017. Epub 2010 Nov 5.

How will e-health affect patient participation in the clinic? A review of e-health studies and the current evidence for changes in the relationship between medical professionals and patients.

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Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, Medical Anthropology, Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam, Netherlands.


In this report we discuss the consequences of e-health for patient-clinician encounters. On the basis of an analysis of the literature, we propose an analytical framework, composed of five different themes, regarding the impact of e-health on the relationship between patients and their health professionals. Internet health sites can: be or come to be a replacement for face-to-face consultations; supplement existing forms of care; create favorable circumstances for strengthening patient participation; disturb relations; and/or force or demand more intense patient participation. Though there is as yet insufficient empirical evidence supporting these effects, we believe that distinguishing the proposed themes will help to guide an in-depth discussion and further research. We conclude that in particular the redistribution of tasks and responsibilities to patients in their daily lives requires more attention in future research.

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