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Medical specialists' accounts of the impact of the Internet on the doctor/ patient relationship

[journal article]

Broom, Alex

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Abstract In the context of health service delivery, deprofessionalization denotes a trend towards a demystification of medical expertise and increasing lay scepticism about health professionals, suggesting a decline in the power and status of the medical profession. This process has been linked to increasing consumerism, the rise of complementary medicine and the emergence of the Internet. Drawing on data from in-depth interviews with prostate cancer specialists, this article explores their experiences of the Internet user within the context of the medical consultation. Results suggest that the deprofessionalization thesis is inadequate for capturing the complex and varying ways in which specialists view, and respond to, the Internet-informed patient. It is argued that the ways in which these specialists are adapting to the Internet and the Internet user should be viewed as strategic responses, rather than reflecting a breakdown in their authority or status. ‘Enlistment’ and ‘translation’ are presented as useful conceptual tools for understanding specialists’ experiences of the Internet.
Keywords Internet
Free Keywords deprofessionalization; doctor/patient relationship; prostate cancer;
Publication Year 2005
Page/Pages p. 319-338
Journal Health, 9 (2005) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)