How do people with asthma use Internet sites containing patient experiences?

Elizabeth Sillence, Claire Hardy, Pamela Briggs, Peter Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: To understand how people engage with websites containing patient authored accounts of health and illness. To examine how people with asthma navigate their way through this information and make use of the patient experiences they find. Methods: Twenty-nine patients with diagnoses ranging from mild to severe asthma were shown a range of websites, some containing patient experiences, and selected two sites to explore further. They discussed their choices in a series of focus groups and interviews. Results: Participants were influenced initially by the design quality of the sites and were subsequently drawn to websites containing patient experiences but only when contributions were from similar people offering ‘relevant stories’. The experiences reminded participants of the serious nature of the disease, provided new insights into the condition and an opportunity to reflect upon the role of the disease in their lives. Conclusion: For people with asthma websites containing other patients’ personal experiences can serve as a useful information resource, refresh their knowledge and ensure their health behaviours are appropriate and up-to-date. Practice Implications: Health professionals should consider referring asthma patients to appropriate websites whilst being aware that online experiences are most engaging when they resonate with the participants own situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-443
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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