ElectronicHealthcare 10(3) January 2012 : e5-e9

Online Patient Engagement: Key Factors of Trusted Health Websites

Neil Seeman and Alton Ing


Objectives: (1) To identify some of the most trusted web pages that relate to patient engagement in their own healthcare, and (2) to identify the key themes of these trusted websites that most capture the attention of participants, thereby fostering the mutual sharing of personal and factual information.

Methods: Using language strings as search terms, over 1,000 patient engagement websites in English and French were "scraped." Scoring was based on a "buzz" ranking the authors had previously developed. The top selected sites were analyzed for emergent themes, and these themes were qualitatively compared with earlier literature in the field of patient engagement.

Results and conclusion: Thirty-nine English and 18 French web pages received top ranking. Participation was largely from the lay public, and most information was user-generated. Recurring themes that were central factors in these healthcare websites were shared decision making, an empathic patient–health provider relationship, humour, transparency of funding, and patient-centred care. It is concluded that these key factors are important to online patient engagement.



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