Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous academic writings’ Category

Patient Advocates in the Internet Age: a threat to traditional notions of authority in health care?

November 7, 2010


The Internet, with its many modes of publication, has facilitated the growth of high profile patient advocates by giving them a powerful platform from which to be heard. Their success in garnering a sizable audience of chronic health sufferers is playing a central role in challenging traditional notions of authority in the health care field.

This paper will specifically look at the example of thyroid disease to demonstrate how the more prominent patient advocates make use of these publication methods and how this has cemented their position as a new form of authority in the health care arena. Research including a review of relevant academic research and study of advocates’ blogs, websites and message boards has provided the insights and evidence for this paper.

By looking at the cultural and technological context which has given rise to this development, this paper seeks to demonstrate that the patient advocate is a new form of authority, challenging traditional notions of authority in health care by harnessing publication methods on the Internet to speak to and actively engage with an audience. Medical authority will be defined for this purpose using a philosophical and sociological framework.

This paper contributes to the body of related existing academic literature which has examined the impact of the Internet on traditional models of health care. By specifically focusing on the examples of patient advocates in the area of thyroid disease, this paper will demonstrate that traditional notions of authority in health care are being challenged.

Keywords: Internet, authority, patient advocate, health care, medical, thyroid, doctor.

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