University of Twente Student Theses


Factors influencing and hindering people’s intention to engage in medical online medical consultations

Johannink, Anne (2012) Factors influencing and hindering people’s intention to engage in medical online medical consultations.

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Abstract:With this qualitative study we gather insight into the deeper needs and motives of potential patients when considering medical online consultations by email, chat and online structured questionnaires. Two main research questions are central in this study. The first question is concerning the influencing factors Dutch people consider when deciding whether or not to engage in online medical e-consultation, while the second question focuses on the barriers Dutch people perceive when considering online medical e-consultation. To answer these research questions, 5 focus group discussions with 28 participants were conducted. According to the respondents, the majority came from the region Twente. While participants rated their internet experience on an average of 7,9, none of the participant had ever used any form of online medical consultation yet. The average age of the respondents was 39,6 years and according to the male/female balance, 20 women and 8 men participated. The focus group discussion method has proven itself as a social, fruitful way of qualitative research, which was able to obtain in-depth results. Results showed that the intention to engage in medical online consultation was dependent on specific situations and types of conditions in which people would consider online consultation as appropriate. Thereby the doctor-patient relationship seemed to play a role. When participants indicated that they had a relationship or other connection with their personal physician they seemed less intended to engage in online consultation. Also the amount of usefulness where participants doubted the added value of online consultation, and the benefits of online consultation such as time-saving, influenced the usage intention. The factor trust also seemed to play a major role in determining the usage intention. Trust in the doctor’s qualifications was doubted, the personal physician was preferred during e-consultation and participants suggested the importance of the doctor’s knowledge of medical history of his patient. Other factors of trust suggested the website on which the e-consultation take place would be more trustworthy if a quality assurance would be attached. The nature of the healthcare provider behind online consultations was suggested to be important. Participants claimed that an independent organization had to supply online e-consultations. The health insurance company was considered as not trustworthy at all. People were also influenced by specific barriers like risk, lack of face-to-face contact and perceived costs of online consultation. According to the perceived risks, people feared the unsafe character of the internet on which online consultation takes place. In particular, the risk of data abuse was feared a lot. Also the risk of miscommunication and misdiagnosis during an online consultation were considered as high risks. Another barrier, the lack offace- to-face contact was feared since physical examination and mimicry were considered as important factors for diagnosing. Finally, although e-consultation is presented as costeffective by the European Commission, the majority of the participants did not consider e-consultation as costs-effective.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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