Objective To investigate current use of the internet and eHealth amongst adults. Design Focus groups were conducted to explore participants' attitudes to and reasons for health internet use. Main outcome measures The focus group data were analysed and interpreted using thematic analysis. Results Three superordinate themes exploring eHealth behaviours were identified: decline in expert authority, pervasiveness of health information on the internet and empowerment. Results showed participants enjoyed the immediate benefits of eHealth information and felt empowered by increased knowledge, but they would be reluctant to lose face-to-face consultations with their GP. Conclusions Our findings illustrate changes in patient identity and a decline in expert authority with ramifications for the practitioner–patient relationship and subsequent implications for health management more generally.
Bibliographical noteDonnelly, Louise S.; Shaw, Rachel L. and van den Akker, Olga (2008). eHealth as a challenge to `expert' power: a focus group study of internet use for health information and management. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101 (10), pp. 501-506. DOI 10.1258/jrsm.2008.080156 This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The definitive version, detailed above, is available online at www.rsmjournals.com.
- health internet use
- expert authority
- patient identity
- practitioner–patient relationship
- health management