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The Effect of Computer-Mediated Social Support in Online Communities on Patient Empowerment and Doctor-Patient Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  COMPUTER-MEDIATED SOCIAL SUPPORT 1 The Effect of Computer-Mediated Social Support in Online Communities on Patient Empowerment and Doctor-Patient Communication The Internet has emerged as an innovative information channel allowing its users to access various kinds of medical information which were previously unavailable and difficult- to-find (Bass et al., 2006). Furthermore, the Internet has provided patients with more opportunities to exchange information through virtual networks in online communities (Turner, Grube, & Meyers, 2001; Walther & Boyd, 2002; Wright & Bell, 2003). Although many studies have paid attention to social support as a concept that positively affects patients’ health outcome (e.g. Caplan, 1974; Cobb, 1976; Cohen & Hoberman, 1983) very few have expanded the concept of social support into the online context. Recently several researchers have explored the possibility that computer-mediated communication can serve as an alternative channel for exchanging social supports (e.g. Braithwaite, Waldron, & Finn, 1999; Gooden & Winefield, 2007; Reeves, 2000; Turner et al., 2001; Wright & Bell, 2003). The present study aims to explore the online community as an alternative source of social support for patients as we empirically examine the effect of social support in a computer-mediated context on doctor-patient communication. In addition, this study concerns the mediating role of patient empowerment in the relationship between computer-mediated social support and affect doctor-patient communication. Empowerment, the concept originated from the movement of disadvantaged populations to gain mastery over their own lives (Anderson, 1996), has been employed as an alternative viewpoint to compliance- oriented approaches in the context of health (Anderson & Funnell, 2005). Within the patient- centered perspective, empowerment is rapidly gaining popularity pursuing symmetrical relationships between doctors and patients. Although most scholars in the physician-centered perspective have viewed patient empowerment as a result of doctor-patient communication

Authors: Oh, Hyunjung. and Lee, Byoungkwan.
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COMPUTER-MEDIATED SOCIAL SUPPORT    1 
 
The Effect of Computer-Mediated Social Support in Online Communities on Patient 
Empowerment and Doctor-Patient Communication 
 
The Internet has emerged as an innovative information channel allowing its users to 
access various kinds of medical information which were previously unavailable and difficult-
to-find (Bass et al., 2006). Furthermore, the Internet has provided patients with more 
opportunities to exchange information through virtual networks in online communities 
(Turner, Grube, & Meyers, 2001; Walther & Boyd, 2002; Wright & Bell, 2003). Although 
many studies have paid attention to social support as a concept that positively affects patients’ 
health outcome (e.g. Caplan, 1974; Cobb, 1976; Cohen & Hoberman, 1983) very few have 
expanded the concept of social support into the online context. Recently several researchers 
have explored the possibility that computer-mediated communication can serve as an 
alternative channel for exchanging social supports (e.g. Braithwaite, Waldron, & Finn, 1999; 
Gooden & Winefield, 2007; Reeves, 2000; Turner et al., 2001; Wright & Bell, 2003).   
The present study aims to explore the online community as an alternative source of 
social support for patients as we empirically examine the effect of social support in a 
computer-mediated context on doctor-patient communication. In addition, this study concerns 
the mediating role of patient empowerment in the relationship between computer-mediated 
social support and affect doctor-patient communication. Empowerment, the concept 
originated from the movement of disadvantaged populations to gain mastery over their own 
lives (Anderson, 1996), has been employed as an alternative viewpoint to compliance-
oriented approaches in the context of health (Anderson & Funnell, 2005). Within the patient-
centered perspective, empowerment is rapidly gaining popularity pursuing symmetrical 
relationships between doctors and patients. Although most scholars in the physician-centered 
perspective have viewed patient empowerment as a result of doctor-patient communication 


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