Predictors of patients’ loyalty toward doctors on web-based health communities: Cross-sectional study

Tailai Wu, Zhaohua Deng, Zhuo Chen, Donglan Zhang, Xiang Wu, Ruoxi Wang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Web-based health communities provide means for patients to not only seek care but also to promote their relationship with doctors. However, little is known about the predictors of patients’ loyalty toward doctors in Web-based health communities. Objective: This study aimed to investigate the predictors of patients’ loyalty toward doctors in Web-based health communities. Methods: On the basis of sociotechnical systems theory and attachment theory, we propose that social factors including emotional interaction, perceived expertise, and social norm influence patients’ loyalty through their emotional attachment, whereas technical factors including sociability, personalization, and perceived security affect patients’ loyalty through functional dependence. To validate our proposed research model, we used the survey method and collected 373 valid answers. Partial least square was used to analyze the data. Results: Our empirical analysis results showed that all the social factors including emotional interaction (beta=.257, t350=2.571; P=.01), perceived expertise (beta=.288, t350=3.412; P=.001), and social norm (beta=.210, t350=2.017; P=.04) affect patients’ emotional attachment toward doctors significantly, whereas except sociability (beta=.110, t350=1.152; P=.25), technical factors such as personalization (beta=.242, t350=2.228; P=.03) and perceived security (beta=.328, t350=3.438; P=.001) impact functional dependence significantly. Considering the effect of working mechanisms, both emotional attachment (beta=.443, t350=4.518; P<.001) and functional dependence (beta=.303, t350=2.672; P=.008) influence patients’ loyalty toward doctors in Web-based health communities significantly. Conclusions: Patients’ loyalty toward doctors in Web-based health communities is important for the effectiveness of doctors’ advice or service in Web-based health communities. The research results not only fill the gaps in the literature of the patient-doctor relationship and Web-based health communities but also has many implications for establishing patients’ loyalty on Web-based health communities and in physical context.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14484
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume21
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • Community network
  • Health services
  • Medical informatics
  • Patients
  • Physicians
  • Psychological theory
  • Social theory
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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