Informed citizen and empowered citizen in health: results from an European survey.

Institute of Electronics Engineering and Telematics of Aveiro, Department of Economics, Management and Industrial Engineering, University of Aveiro, Portugal.
BMC Family Practice (Impact Factor: 1.74). 04/2011; 12:20. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2296-12-20
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The knowledge about the relationship between health-related activities on the Internet (i.e. informed citizens) and individuals' control over their own experiences of health or illness (i.e. empowered citizens) is valuable but scarce. In this paper, we investigate the correlation between four ways of using the Internet for information on health or illness and citizens attitudes and behaviours toward health professionals and health systems and establish the profile of empowered eHealth citizens in Europe.
Data was collected during April and May 2007 (N = 7022), through computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI). Respondents from Denmark, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Norway, Poland and Portugal participated in the survey. The profiles were generated using logistic regressions and are based on: a) socio-demographic and health information, b) the level of use of health-related online services, c) the level of use of the Internet to get health information to decide whether to consult a health professional, prepare for a medical appointment and assess its outcome, and d) the impact of online health information on citizens' attitudes and behavior towards health professionals and health systems.
Citizens using the Internet to decide whether to consult a health professional or to get a second opinion are likely to be frequent visitors of health sites, active participants of online health forums and recurrent buyers of medicines and other health related products online, while only infrequent epatients, visiting doctors they have never met face-to-face. Participation in online health communities seems to be related with more inquisitive and autonomous patients.
The profiles of empowered eHealth citizens in Europe are situational and country dependent. The number of Europeans using the Internet to get health information to help them deal with a consultation is raising and having access to online health information seems to be associated with growing number of inquisitive and self-reliant patients. Doctors are increasingly likely to experience consultations with knowledgeable and empowered patients, who will challenge them in various ways.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Patient empowerment is crucial in the successful self-management of people with chronic diseases. In this study, we investigated whether discussions about medicine use taking place on online message boards contribute to patient empowerment and could subsequently result in the more effective use of medicines. We discuss the extent to which patient empowerment processes occur in discussions on online message boards, focusing on patients with three disorders with different characteristics: diabetes, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Because information is an important factor in both patient empowerment and self-management, we also evaluate the quality of the information being exchanged. Methods We used a deductive thematic analysis method based on pre-existing categories. We gathered and analysed 5532 posts related to the conditions ADHD, ALS and diabetes from seven message boards (three for ADHD, three for diabetes, and one for ALS). We coded the posts for empowerment processes and the quality of the information exchanged. Results We identified patient empowerment processes in posts related to all three disorders. There is some variation in the frequency of these processes, but they show a similar order in the results: patients used the online message boards to exchange information, share personal experiences and for empathy or support. The type of information shared in these processes could contribute to the patient’s self-efficacy when it comes to medicine use. The exchanged information was either correct or largely harmless. We also observed a tendency whereby participants correct previously posted incorrect information, and refer people to a healthcare professional following a request for medical advice, e.g. concerning the choice of medicines or dosage. Conclusions Our findings show that patient empowerment processes occur in posts related to all three disorders. The type of information shared in these processes can contribute to the patient’s self-efficacy when it comes to medicine use. The tendency to refer people to a healthcare professional shows that patients still reserve an important role for healthcare professionals in the care process, despite the development towards more self-management. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12911-015-0146-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 04/2015; 15(1). DOI:10.1186/s12911-015-0146-6 · 1.50 Impact Factor
  • 01/2014; 53(2). DOI:10.2478/sjph-2014-0014
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In Poland, like in other European countries and in accordance with the global trend, the number of computer users and people who have access to the Internet has increased considerably. The study investigates trends and patterns of Polish health-related Internet use over a period of seven years. The main objective of the study was to estimate the change in the proportion of the population using Internet for health purposes and to show the potential trend in perceptions and preferences of Polish citizens in this respect as well as factors affecting their use. The study was based on three national surveys that were conducted in 2005, 2007, and 2012. A total of 3027 adult citizens were selected randomly from the Polish population. A sample collection was carried out by Polish opinion poll agencies by computer-assisted telephone interviews. The subjects were asked to respond to general questions about their Internet use and their Internet use for health-related purposes, as well as to express their opinions about various sources of medical information, frequency, and the need for direct communication with health professionals via the Internet and other interactive forms of online activities. The proportion of the Polish population that used the Internet for health-related purposes increased significantly (41.7% in 2005, 53.3% in 2007, and 66.7% in 2012). The Internet has become an important source of health information for almost half of Polish citizens, overtaking television, radio, press, and courses or lectures in the ranking list. As the medium matures, the use of interactive, health-related online services has also increased remarkably. However, while the main users of the Internet are certainly younger people, the largest growth potential has been observed among the elderly. The profile of the most likely Internet user and the citizen for whom the Internet is an important source of health information has been determined. The Internet offers enormous opportunities, particularly for providing and improving consumer information services with regard to health care. A sharply increasing trend regarding Internet use, Internet use for health purposes, and the interactive use of the Internet related to health has been observed among Polish citizens.
    BMC Public Health 12/2015; 15(15):194. DOI:10.1186/s12889-015-1473-3 · 2.32 Impact Factor

Full-text (4 Sources)

Available from
Jun 2, 2014