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19-3-2014 pag. 2
Does Internet Health Information
Offset
the Doctor’s Aesculapian Power ?
Edgard Eeckman
19-3-2014
Who am I?
• Edgard Eeckman
• Communication Manager UZ Brussel
• Scientific researcher
Free University of Brussel...
19-3-2014
Basic Research Question
What is the influence of the internet
as a source of health information
on the power bal...
19-3-2014
Basic Research Question
What is the influence of the internet
as a source of health information
on the power bal...
19-3-2014
Relevance
1. It is important to understand all aspects of the power balance
when we want to understand how we ca...
19-3-2014
Mixed Research Approach
Internet survey:
healthy people &
patients
Analyzing 25 GP
consultations
Group discussio...
19-3-2014
Deduced Research Question
Does internet health information offset
the doctor’s aesculapian power?
Internet surve...
19-3-2014
Theory: Power - Knowledge 1
• “Aesculapian power”: “The power the
physician possesses by virtue of her training
...
19-3-2014
Theory: Power - Knowledge 2
• Social power / Second stream (Scott, 2001)
• Focus on strategies and techniques
(n...
19-3-2014
Theory: Power - Knowledge – Trust
• Authority – Legitimacy (Hearn, 2012)
– Doctor = “Thinner form of authority”
...
19-3-2014
Results
1. Results from the literature research
2. Results from the survey
19-3-2014
Results
1. Results from the literature research
2. Results from the survey
19-3-2014
Results: Literature
Internet as Source of Health Information
1. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the
internet as...
19-3-2014
Results: Literature
Internet as Source of Health Information
1. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the
internet as...
19-3-2014
1. Conditions & Obstacles Linked to the
Internet as a Health Information Source
• Information ≠ knowledge
• Inte...
19-3-2014
Results: Literature
Internet as Source of Health Information
1. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the
internet as...
19-3-2014
2. Conditions & Obstacles
Linked to the Health Information Seeker 1
• Looking for information requires literacy
...
19-3-2014
2. Conditions & Obstacles
Linked to the Health Information Seeker 2
• People use the internet
more for entertain...
19-3-2014
5 General Obstacles
1. Effective care is context-specific
2. Not all patients want to acquire knowledge
3. Some ...
19-3-2014
Results
1. Results from the literature research
2. Results from the survey
19-3-2014
Results
1. Results from the literature research
2. Results from the survey
19-3-2014
About the Survey
• October 2012 – July 2013
• 3 771 respondents – 3 071 completed
and fulfilled criteria
• Crite...
19-3-2014 pag. 24
Survey
• 38 questions
• Related to:
– Power
– Dependency
– Expert systems
– Authority
– Legitimacy
– Inf...
19-3-2014
About the Survey - Profile of the Respondents 1
• Profile of the respondents
• Gender: 62.42% women - 37.58% men...
19-3-2014
About the Survey - Profile of the Respondents 2
• Main profession
– 4,23% independent/artisan/farmer
– 4.95% mem...
19-3-2014
About the Survey - Profile of the Respondents 3
• 97.85% had one GP
• 28.39% considered themselves
chronic patie...
19-3-2014
Results: Survey
Their GP 1
1. Respondents recognise the GP’s medical
expertise
– 91,4% answered that their GP kn...
19-3-2014
Results: Survey
Their GP 2
2. Indications that the majority
trust/have faith in their GP
– 31,42% calls the doct...
19-3-2014
Results: Survey
Their GP 3
– 84,92% thinks their GP always does
what is the best for them
– Why does someone cho...
19-3-2014
Results: Survey
The internet
1. 42,82% considers the internet a good
source of health information – 22,11%
state...
19-3-2014
Link with the Respondents’ Profile? 1
• Recognition of medical knowledge of the PG
and satisfaction, trust, loya...
19-3-2014
Link with the Respondents’ Profile? 2
• Trust that GP keeps the consult confidential:
no difference in gender, o...
19-3-2014
Link with the Respondents’ Profile? 3
• The internet is a good source
– No outspoken gender difference,
slightly...
19-3-2014
Conclusion
• No strong basis for stating that the internet equals
the doctor’s medical knowledge,
thereby offset...
19-3-2014
Limitations
• Survey only done through internet research
• The research did not ask if respondents
seek for heal...
19-3-2014
Next Steps
Internet survey:
healthy people &
patient
Analyzing 25 GP
consultations
Group discussions:
healthy pe...
19-3-2014
Contact Information
• eeeckman@vub.ac.be
• Follow Edgard on twitter: #eeckman
Does Internet Health Information Offset the Doctor's Aesculapian Power?
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Does Internet Health Information Offset the Doctor's Aesculapian Power?

Edgard Eeckman's presentation on the Careum Congress - March 17th-18th 2014 - Basel/Switzerland on "The Power of Patients 3.0 - Patients are changing the face of healthcare".
Follow Edgard on twitter #eeckman
Questions? Mail: eeeckman@vub.ac.be

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Does Internet Health Information Offset the Doctor's Aesculapian Power?

  1. 1. 19-3-2014 pag. 2 Does Internet Health Information Offset the Doctor’s Aesculapian Power ? Edgard Eeckman
  2. 2. 19-3-2014 Who am I? • Edgard Eeckman • Communication Manager UZ Brussel • Scientific researcher Free University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) • PhD student communication sciences (started end 2009)
  3. 3. 19-3-2014 Basic Research Question What is the influence of the internet as a source of health information on the power balance between patient and doctor ? Doctor = General Practitioner/GP
  4. 4. 19-3-2014 Basic Research Question What is the influence of the internet as a source of health information on the power balance between patient and doctor ?
  5. 5. 19-3-2014 Relevance 1. It is important to understand all aspects of the power balance when we want to understand how we can achieve patient empowerment. 2. Health knowledge is the basis to enable and empower individuals and organizations to take better health care decisions (Al-Shorbaji, 2012). 3. Information gap between patients and their doctors is narrowing (Webb, 2003) 4. Internet health information is threatening the medical expert system (Kuppersmith, 2002) 5. Is internet health information influencing the power balance between patient and doctor and is it empowering the patient? 6. What should be the focus if we want to achieve patient empowerment? And is this the internet as a health information source?
  6. 6. 19-3-2014 Mixed Research Approach Internet survey: healthy people & patients Analyzing 25 GP consultations Group discussions: healthy people & patients + expert interviews: communication teachers Group discussions: GP’s
  7. 7. 19-3-2014 Deduced Research Question Does internet health information offset the doctor’s aesculapian power? Internet survey: healthy people & patients Analyzing 25 GP consultations Group discussions: healthy people & patients + expert interviews: communication teachers Group discussions: GP’s
  8. 8. 19-3-2014 Theory: Power - Knowledge 1 • “Aesculapian power”: “The power the physician possesses by virtue of her training in the discipline and the art or craft of medicine” (Brody, 1992) • “Competent authority”: “a power relation in which the subject obeys the directives of the authority out of belief in the authority’s superior competence or expertise to decide which actions will best serve the subject’s interests and goals” (Wrong, 2009)
  9. 9. 19-3-2014 Theory: Power - Knowledge 2 • Social power / Second stream (Scott, 2001) • Focus on strategies and techniques (not on specific organisations) • Power is diffused throughout society (not confined to sovereign organisations) • Stresses facilitative or ‘productive’ aspects (not on repressive aspects) • Power is not zero-sum Gramsci, Althusser, Parsons, Foucault
  10. 10. 19-3-2014 Theory: Power - Knowledge – Trust • Authority – Legitimacy (Hearn, 2012) – Doctor = “Thinner form of authority” • Power & Knowledge - Foucault • Trust = Power – Trust as “a strategy for the reduction of complexity” (Luhmann, 1979) – “Trust is founded on the motivation attributed to behaviour” (Luhmann, 1979) • Trust – Loyalty – Satisfaction (Reichheld, 2001 – Thomassen, 2008) • …
  11. 11. 19-3-2014 Results 1. Results from the literature research 2. Results from the survey
  12. 12. 19-3-2014 Results 1. Results from the literature research 2. Results from the survey
  13. 13. 19-3-2014 Results: Literature Internet as Source of Health Information 1. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the internet as a health information source 2. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the health information seeker + 5 General Obstacles
  14. 14. 19-3-2014 Results: Literature Internet as Source of Health Information 1. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the internet as a health information source 2. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the health information seeker
  15. 15. 19-3-2014 1. Conditions & Obstacles Linked to the Internet as a Health Information Source • Information ≠ knowledge • Internet = unstructured information source • Information overload & misinformation • Some information cannot be found • The internet is a dynamic information source • Technical access is a condition • Some cannot afford pc & connection • Some refrain from using the internet
  16. 16. 19-3-2014 Results: Literature Internet as Source of Health Information 1. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the internet as a health information source 2. Conditions & Obstacles linked to the health information seeker
  17. 17. 19-3-2014 2. Conditions & Obstacles Linked to the Health Information Seeker 1 • Looking for information requires literacy • Looking for health information requires health literacy • Surfing the net requires internet & IT literacy • The language issue (English!) • Specialised information & knowledge may be very “esoteric” • Looking for information is more than just locating it
  18. 18. 19-3-2014 2. Conditions & Obstacles Linked to the Health Information Seeker 2 • People use the internet more for entertainment • The characteristics of information seeking • Some do not use the information found • Some are incompetent
  19. 19. 19-3-2014 5 General Obstacles 1. Effective care is context-specific 2. Not all patients want to acquire knowledge 3. Some doctors disregard the patient’s knowledge 4. Knowledge evolves 5. Knowledge is not zero-sum
  20. 20. 19-3-2014 Results 1. Results from the literature research 2. Results from the survey
  21. 21. 19-3-2014 Results 1. Results from the literature research 2. Results from the survey
  22. 22. 19-3-2014 About the Survey • October 2012 – July 2013 • 3 771 respondents – 3 071 completed and fulfilled criteria • Criteria: Belgian nationality + speaking Dutch + not living with parents + having GP + having internet access
  23. 23. 19-3-2014 pag. 24 Survey • 38 questions • Related to: – Power – Dependency – Expert systems – Authority – Legitimacy – Information – Status – Satisfaction – Trust – Risk – The internet
  24. 24. 19-3-2014 About the Survey - Profile of the Respondents 1 • Profile of the respondents • Gender: 62.42% women - 37.58% men • Age – 4.20% between 18 -24 years – 19.96% between 25-35 years – 19.05% between 36-45 years – 24.85% between 46-55 years – 20.06% between 56-65 years – 8.88% 66 years and older •
  25. 25. 19-3-2014 About the Survey - Profile of the Respondents 2 • Main profession – 4,23% independent/artisan/farmer – 4.95% member of the board/senior management – 46.43% employee/teacher/civil servant – 5.67% executive/liberal profession – 3.45% worker – 3.22% housewife/houseman – 2.77% student – 20.61% retired – 1.86% unemployed – 6.81% ‘other’
  26. 26. 19-3-2014 About the Survey - Profile of the Respondents 3 • 97.85% had one GP • 28.39% considered themselves chronic patients • 50.41% of the GP’s of the respondents had solo practice - 22.63% duo practice - 26.96% group practice • 74.24% of the members of the same nuclear family went to the same GP
  27. 27. 19-3-2014 Results: Survey Their GP 1 1. Respondents recognise the GP’s medical expertise – 91,4% answered that their GP knows more about medical matters
  28. 28. 19-3-2014 Results: Survey Their GP 2 2. Indications that the majority trust/have faith in their GP – 31,42% calls the doctor the most trustworthy of 8 given professions (manager, journalist, politician, teacher, doctor, judge, scientist) – 80,07% is loyal to their GP – 90,59% is satisfied with their GP – 89,68% trusts that GP keeps the consult confidential – 73,10% thinks their GP would admit a medical mistake
  29. 29. 19-3-2014 Results: Survey Their GP 3 – 84,92% thinks their GP always does what is the best for them – Why does someone choose to be a doctor? 1. Because they consider it an interesting profession 47.67% 2. Out of idealism/To help people 39.04% 3. For the status/Out of prestige 5.21% 4. For the money 4.30% 5. Because they like human contact 2.64% 6. Because they want to be self-employed 1.14%
  30. 30. 19-3-2014 Results: Survey The internet 1. 42,82% considers the internet a good source of health information – 22,11% states that it is not – 35,07% remain neutral 2. 31,23% regularly have difficulties to find the information they are seeking – 41,13% did not take position 3. 23,51% agrees that “health information on the internet is usually correct” – 51,16% remains neutral – 25,33% disagrees
  31. 31. 19-3-2014 Link with the Respondents’ Profile? 1 • Recognition of medical knowledge of the PG and satisfaction, trust, loyalty, satisfaction, admitting a medical mistake, assuming their GP always does what is best for them : no marked difference in gender, age or profession • More doubt and denail with persons considering themselves chronic patients - Being a chronic patient is an influencing factor – “The expert patient”?
  32. 32. 19-3-2014 Link with the Respondents’ Profile? 2 • Trust that GP keeps the consult confidential: no difference in gender, or profession + slightly more outspoken negative in age categories 18-24 and 36-45 • Reason for someone to choose to be a doctor: more women say “out of idealism” – substantially more men answered “for the money”
  33. 33. 19-3-2014 Link with the Respondents’ Profile? 3 • The internet is a good source – No outspoken gender difference, slightly more men agree entirely – Age 25-35 upwards do not agree / 56-65 + 66-75 higher totally agree – The retired do agree more / Teachers, clerks and civil servants disagree more • Difficulties finding information – More men neutral – More age 46-55 neutral / More age 25-35 agree – Profession: only housewives/housemen demonstrate more total agreement
  34. 34. 19-3-2014 Conclusion • No strong basis for stating that the internet equals the doctor’s medical knowledge, thereby offsetting the GP’s aesculapian power • The information gap may have narrowed, but the expert system is not ruled out • The use of the internet to acquire health knowledge is conditional • The internet is not considered a flawless source of health information • When we want to empower the patient, informing the patient is key, but only one key element • There is no basis for internet determinism as a tool for patient empowerment
  35. 35. 19-3-2014 Limitations • Survey only done through internet research • The research did not ask if respondents seek for health information on the net: part of the respondents’ group give their opinion based on reputation and not experience
  36. 36. 19-3-2014 Next Steps Internet survey: healthy people & patient Analyzing 25 GP consultations Group discussions: healthy people & patients + expert interviews: communication teachers Group discussions: GP’s
  37. 37. 19-3-2014 Contact Information • eeeckman@vub.ac.be • Follow Edgard on twitter: #eeckman

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