Internet and Health: a cross-cultural qualitative study

During the last decades the traditional paternalistic approach to the doctor-patient relationship has shifted towards a more patient-centered one; while the physicians’ role becomes less dominant, patients are increasingly taking on an active role in decisions regarding their own health. In this context, being able to obtain and understand all the information necessary to make a sound decision becomes crucial for the patient. With the advent of the Internet, health-related information is now increasingly available to the public. Considering that wrong or incomplete information can have negative consequences on the doctor-patient relationship and be related to adverse health outcomes, greater attention needs to be devoted to how people interact with online health information.

Despite the global nature of the Internet, people in different countries may have different perceptions of, and approaches to, online health information quality. Differences may be related to the specificities of the national (online) health information environment (e.g., existence of established institutional websites, previous communication campaigns on the topic, etc.).The main aim of the present study is to explore cross-cultural differences in how people access and evaluate of the quality of online health information. Qualitative in-depth interviews will be conducted in 5 different countries (Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, and Israel) among people with previous experience with online health information seeking and with a diverse socio-economical background. Interviews will be analyzed using thematic analysis to identify recurring themes and to highlight differences and similarities across countries. If our hypothesis will be confirmed, patient education initiatives will need to consider country-specific practices and attitudes when developing interventions to build online health information evaluation skills.

Onderzoeksteam: Dr. Nicola Diviani PhD, University of Amsterdam
Dr. Eva Haukeland Frederiksen, Bergen University College
Dr. Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann, Bergen University College
Associate Professor Judy Mullan, University of Wollongong
Dr. Warren Rich, University of Wollongong
Corine Meppelink, University of Amsterdam
 Status:  Lopend sinds september 2014
Financiering: Data Zwitserland: Swiss National Science Foundation (,
Early Postdoc.Mobility grant  nr. P2TIP1_148345
Data Nederland: Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Data Australie: 2014 UOW Global Challenges Strategic Funding Program
Mullan J, Win K, Howard S, Rich W ($4465.89)
Data Noorwegen: to be added