Online Health Communities and the Patient-Doctor Relationship: An Institutional Logics Perspective

Roberta Bernadi, Philip Fei Wu

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Abstract

Taking an institutional logics perspective, this study investigates how “internet-informed” patients manage tensions between the logic of personal choice and the logic of medical professionalism as they navigate treatment decisions and the patient-doctor relationship. Based on 44 semi-structured interviews with members of an online health community for people with diabetes, this study finds that patients exercise a great deal of agency in evaluating healthcare options not only by activating the logic of personal choice but also by appropriating the logic of medical professionalism. Furthermore, patients are strategic in deciding what community advice to share with their doctor or nurse depending on the healthcare professionals' reaction to the logic of personal choice. In contrast to many previous studies that emphasise patient consumerism fuelled by information on the Internet, this study provides a more nuanced picture of patient-doctor relationship engendered by patients’ participation in online health communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115494
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume314
Early online date31 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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