Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shared Minds: How Patients Use Collaborative Web-Based Information Sharing

From the report: "Online social media present a unique opportunity for patients to explore their health issues, share experiential information, and fulfill their need for health. The shared knowledge provides indirect experience of the sensory aspects of a medical treatment that are not available from the description of its tangible aspects alone. In this study, we examine various forms of WOM in online healthcare communities and investigate how patients educate themselves by using other patients’ experiences. We find empirical evidence for the existence of social contagion. More important, we find that experiential learning, a concept describing substantive experience-based information seeking and sharing, is a complex process and that, surprisingly, buzz effects outweigh similarity effects in social interactions about medical information. We also examine the opinion leadership concept and the managerial implications of these findings are discussed." Read more