When Is the Internet a Valued Communication Device for Health Information in Europe?

Economics of Innovation and New Technology 07/2009; 18(5):429-445. DOI: 10.1080/10438590802547159
Source: RePEc


The proliferation of new information and communication technologies such as the Internet has arguably changed the way individuals update the information they use to prevent illness and monitor their health. Compared with other information sources, Internet use reduces information access costs but comes with trade-offs in terms of quality and credibility of information sources. Limited evidence has been gathered on the behavioural consequences of new technologies such as the Internet on individuals' demand for healthcare information. This paper empirically examines the determinants of Internet use to acquire health-related information and the value attached to this information by drawing upon representative data from European Union member states in a 2002 Eurobarometer survey. Credibility and experience appear to influence use of the Internet for health information. Namely, we find that trust in direct physician advice inhibits the use of the Internet for health information purposes while frequency of Internet use makes the Internet appear a more valuable source of information. Controls for respondent characteristics indicate that young, well-educated males living in an urban environment are more likely to frequently use the web for health information.

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    • "Smith [36] argues that trust in physicians, the amount of contact and adequacy of choice in selecting the provider, and the level of control physicians had in making medical decisions were all related to patients' desire to seek care. Given that there is some evidence that trusting physician advice directly inhibits the use of the internet for health information [13], trust and control may be central in explaining whether SNH is substitutive or complementary to conventional medical care. Trust and control are closely related to privacy. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To profile social networkers and those who use social networks for medical purposes and investigate the role of three behavioural triggers related to control, trust and privacy. Data sources We use data from Europe (Eurobarometer 74.3, 2010) containing information about reported behaviour and perceptions on social issues such as media, privacy and social networking. Study design Probit models showing associations between individual socio-economic variables and reported social networking, and social networking for health. Extra variables proxying for control, trust in health care providers and privacy of personal information are then added. Following this, two part models accounting for zero observations are utilised. Findings The age profile of social networkers using it for medical care differs from that of social networkers per se. Privacy perceptions appear to be a deterrent of social networking whilst trust in the health care providers is not a significant driver of social network use. Conclusions There is some evidence of a digital divide owing to age, while income is not significantly associated with social networking for health. Social networking does not perfectly substitute for conventional health care.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Health Policy and Technology
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    • "According to previous studies [19,45,48], trust can be a defining factor for health information seekers’ use or rejection of the content of health information on the internet. Trust in content and professions were also cited as two most important factors for choosing health communication resources by local citizens in this study. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Developing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) supported health communication in PHC could contribute to increased health literacy and empowerment, which are foundations for enabling people to increase control over their health, as a way to reduce increasing lifestyle related ill health. However, to increase the likelihood of success of implementing ICT supported health communication, it is essential to conduct a detailed analysis of the setting and context prior to the intervention. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of health communication for health promotion in PHC with emphasis on the implications for a planned ICT supported interactive health channel. Methods A qualitative case study, with a multi-methods approach was applied. Field notes, document study and focus groups were used for data collection. Data was then analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results Health communication is an integral part of health promotion practice in PHC in this case study. However, there was a lack of consensus among health professionals on what a health promotion approach was, causing discrepancy in approaches and practices of health communication. Two themes emerged from the data analysis: Communicating health and environment for health communication. The themes represented individual and organizational factors that affected health communication practice in PHC and thus need to be taken into consideration in the development of the planned health channel. Conclusions Health communication practiced in PHC is individual based, preventive and reactive in nature, as opposed to population based, promotive and proactive in line with a health promotion approach. The most significant challenge in developing an ICT supported health communication channel for health promotion identified in this study, is profiling a health promotion approach in PHC. Addressing health promotion values and principles in the design of ICT supported health communication channel could facilitate health communication for promoting health, i.e. ‘health promoting communication’.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
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    ABSTRACT: The intrinsic problem of credence services is that, by definition, even after purchase and consumption experience, the consumer is unable to assess the quality of what was bought. While economic theory defines this category of offerings, it also provides advocates with a way to adequately deal with such services. Existing literature maintains that to increase consumer literacy for credence services, consumers need access to current, unbiased, credible, self-directed information. This commentary furthers the notion that government-sponsored websites and search engines can help consumers gather necessary information to make critical decisions.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2010 · Journal of Consumer Affairs
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