How Does Online Health Information Impact Senior Patients’ Perception of Control in Collaborative Decision-making Process with Physicians?

Author(s): Mehraneh Shantiaei

The American population is aging. The rise of healthcare costs of the aging population in the USA is becoming a national challenge. Fortunately, patient–physician collaborative decision making (CDM) has shown to be an effective way to improve health outcomes and to lower costs. Additionally, the Internet has proven to be a rich source of health information for patients. The aim of this study was to examine senior patients’ perceptions regarding CDM and the impact of using online health information (OLHI) on their perceived control in the CDM process with physicians. The study used a mixed method approach, including quantitative and qualitative methods. Data was collected through surveys and open-ended interviews. A total of 73 senior patients and 14 physicians were surveyed. Senior patients were the main group of participants, and the physicians were recruited just to validate the collected data obtained on the patient side. Among the patients, 50 individuals were OLHI users, and 23 were not. A total of 20 patient participants volunteered to be interviewed. Interviews were face-to-face, open-ended, and semi-structured. Conducting t-tests on the quantitative data showed that the OLHI users in comparison to the non-OLHI users perceive more control in the CDM process with their physicians through higher levels of 1) patient-physician collaborative information exchange; 2) collaborative decision-making behavior of physicians; and 3) willingness to be authoritative in the clinical CDM process. Moreover, descriptive statistics as well as qualitative analysis supported the quantitative results, revealing the positive impact of using OLHI on senior patient empowerment.

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