The 'expert patient'

Empowerment or medical dominance? The case of weight loss, pharmaceutical drugs and the Internet

N. J. Fox, K. J. Ward, A. J. O'Rourke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

251 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Do 'informed' or 'expert' patients challenge dominant traditions in biomedicine or simply adopt these as conventional ways of thinking about body shape and size, illness and health? This paper examines this question in relation to the use of the weight-loss drug Xenical by participants in an Internet forum for obese and overweight people. Ethnographic and interview data from the forum provides evidence that participants share information and support each other as they use Xenical, and in the process emerge as 'expert patients' in relation to their body shape and its treatment. However, it is argued that while an 'expert patient' can be perceived as desirable, enabling the democratisation of healthcare, it can also be constraining. The exchanges between the users in the forum perpetuate a biomedical model of overweight as a condition to be overcome. The discussion critically considers a number of options for the development of the expert patient, including the emergence of an 'informed consumer'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1299-1309
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume60
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Anti-Obesity Agents
Patient Participation
Internet
pharmaceutical
empowerment
expert
drug
biomedicine
Body Size
democratization
illness
Interviews
Delivery of Health Care
Pharmaceuticals
Empowerment
Drugs
Weight Loss
World Wide Web
Expert Patient
Health

Cite this

@article{78ae26fa5757400a898b3ed016670166,
title = "The 'expert patient': Empowerment or medical dominance? The case of weight loss, pharmaceutical drugs and the Internet",
abstract = "Do 'informed' or 'expert' patients challenge dominant traditions in biomedicine or simply adopt these as conventional ways of thinking about body shape and size, illness and health? This paper examines this question in relation to the use of the weight-loss drug Xenical by participants in an Internet forum for obese and overweight people. Ethnographic and interview data from the forum provides evidence that participants share information and support each other as they use Xenical, and in the process emerge as 'expert patients' in relation to their body shape and its treatment. However, it is argued that while an 'expert patient' can be perceived as desirable, enabling the democratisation of healthcare, it can also be constraining. The exchanges between the users in the forum perpetuate a biomedical model of overweight as a condition to be overcome. The discussion critically considers a number of options for the development of the expert patient, including the emergence of an 'informed consumer'.",
keywords = "Consumer, Expert patient, Internet, Medical model, Weight loss, Xenical",
author = "Fox, {N. J.} and Ward, {K. J.} and O'Rourke, {A. J.}",
year = "2005",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.07.005",
language = "English",
volume = "60",
pages = "1299--1309",
journal = "Social Science and Medicine",
issn = "0277-9536",
publisher = "Pergamon Press",
number = "6",

}

The 'expert patient' : Empowerment or medical dominance? The case of weight loss, pharmaceutical drugs and the Internet. / Fox, N. J.; Ward, K. J.; O'Rourke, A. J.

In: Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 60, No. 6, 03.2005, p. 1299-1309.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The 'expert patient'

T2 - Empowerment or medical dominance? The case of weight loss, pharmaceutical drugs and the Internet

AU - Fox, N. J.

AU - Ward, K. J.

AU - O'Rourke, A. J.

PY - 2005/3

Y1 - 2005/3

N2 - Do 'informed' or 'expert' patients challenge dominant traditions in biomedicine or simply adopt these as conventional ways of thinking about body shape and size, illness and health? This paper examines this question in relation to the use of the weight-loss drug Xenical by participants in an Internet forum for obese and overweight people. Ethnographic and interview data from the forum provides evidence that participants share information and support each other as they use Xenical, and in the process emerge as 'expert patients' in relation to their body shape and its treatment. However, it is argued that while an 'expert patient' can be perceived as desirable, enabling the democratisation of healthcare, it can also be constraining. The exchanges between the users in the forum perpetuate a biomedical model of overweight as a condition to be overcome. The discussion critically considers a number of options for the development of the expert patient, including the emergence of an 'informed consumer'.

AB - Do 'informed' or 'expert' patients challenge dominant traditions in biomedicine or simply adopt these as conventional ways of thinking about body shape and size, illness and health? This paper examines this question in relation to the use of the weight-loss drug Xenical by participants in an Internet forum for obese and overweight people. Ethnographic and interview data from the forum provides evidence that participants share information and support each other as they use Xenical, and in the process emerge as 'expert patients' in relation to their body shape and its treatment. However, it is argued that while an 'expert patient' can be perceived as desirable, enabling the democratisation of healthcare, it can also be constraining. The exchanges between the users in the forum perpetuate a biomedical model of overweight as a condition to be overcome. The discussion critically considers a number of options for the development of the expert patient, including the emergence of an 'informed consumer'.

KW - Consumer

KW - Expert patient

KW - Internet

KW - Medical model

KW - Weight loss

KW - Xenical

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=11144346959&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.07.005

DO - 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.07.005

M3 - Article

VL - 60

SP - 1299

EP - 1309

JO - Social Science and Medicine

JF - Social Science and Medicine

SN - 0277-9536

IS - 6

ER -