Literature Review of Online Patient Groups: Benefits and Limitations

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Vivek Pandey, Samrat Kumar Mukherjee, Dr. Ajeya Jha


An increasing number of users are searching the Internet for health information, advice and support. The internet has helped connect peoples, often through taking part in online patient support groups. The online patient support group is identified as "a cluster of people with shared emotional and moral support for each other." The Online patient support group provides individuals with the opportunity to obtain support, information and advice regarding specific types of psychological and physical health conditions and to engage in contacts with different users who may have encountered similar circumstances in their lives. This article is a review paper with a systemic approach. We searched for papers systematically to address associated issues and opportunities in the online support of patients. It recognizes the need to encourage patients to use the online patient support group, its advantages and limits. The results indicate that online patient support groups are growing day by day as the public is much informed with computer technology and is comfortable today. Patients gathers one or more unmet needs from the Online Patient Support Groups, those are Perceived Empathy, Homophily, Information-Seeking Effectiveness, Perceived Social-Support and Patient Empowerment. Not all the people have the skills to find out the information from online patient support groups. This review paper confirms that the online patient support team has been able to provide information in a number of ways useful to users and that it enhances the interaction between the patient and physician. It has limitations that must be investigated and understood in order to prevent adverse impacts.

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