*Raphaelle Laubie
Dauphine University
Oral Presentation – Research Track
Sunday, Sept 30, 2012: 10:40 AM – 11:00 AM – LK130

*Presenting Speaker


The second generation of web services gives everyone the opportunity to interact and provide information to enrich the web.  Globally and for health purposes, people are browsing through the Internet in order to find information, to make their own diagnosis or to look for other patients’ testimonies. Online interactions are thus becoming a significant part of patients’ expectations and behaviors defining social media for health-related communication. Besides these aspects and despite the speed of technological changes and their adoption by patients, key questions remain unanswered concerning the determinants of patients’ online collective action. What are the main values in patients using social networks? Are patients more susceptible to factors related to emotion because of their mental fragility, compared to typical users? Are issues related to trust and private data major obstacles to the patients’ online action? The goal of this research in progress, based on past studies, drawing upon IS, marketing and medical literature, is to answer all these questions by designing a model highlighting the determinants of patients’ online action.

Theoretical Background
Goal-directed Emotion, Model of Goal-directed Behavior and Expectancy-value Model of Achievement form the theoretical basis of our study in the context of patients’ online communities.

Preliminary interviews’ research with Doctors and caregivers (5 persons), health 2.0 experts (13 persons), web 2.0 experts (7 persons) were conducted, which offered primary information about the determinants for online action. A total of 54 interviews were coded using NVivo data analysis, including patients (21 persons) and patients’ relatives (8 persons). Therefore, we adapted constructs’ dimensions with regards to our interviews’ findings and theoretical background. Four dimensions have been identified as predictive constructs for action: Social Value, Utilitarian Value, Hedonic Value and Trust. They will be tested through a questionnaire on a large online panel of 10.000 virtual community’s users, already questioned for the 21 patients’ interviews.

Results and Limitations
Preliminary interviews demonstrated that information need and belongingness need remains the main reasons to reach and to follow these communities, but testimonies also showed the emergence of new factors such as the need to help peers and to provide positive emotions. Besides, inaccurate medical information and privacy protection convey major hindrances for patients who would be willing to join. Characteristics related to social behavior have also emerged from interviews. We will follow these results to conduct our quantitative approach in order to discover further results. Furthermore, this study will have three main limitations. First, the study is being conducted in France and need to extent the investigation in a multicultural setting. Second, we have also deliberately targeted a breast cancer community, and a community of parents of autistic children. The research results may hence not apply to all patients’ communities.  Third, we mainly interviewed women and our results might not be extrapolated to both genders.

Although the emotional dimension remained the key in patients’ motives for joining online virtual communities, we also found that information needs, as a utilitarian determinant of intentional action, should be considered as an important variable in a patients-based community engagement model. The concept of trust embodied by the relevant medical information has also to be considered as a predictive variable together with the concept of social value. These results raised several interesting issues for our current research in progress.

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