'Ignorance is bliss sometimes': constraints on the emergence of the 'informed patient' in the changing landscapes of health information


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Henwood, Flis, Wyatt, S., Hart, Angela and Smith, J. (2003) 'Ignorance is bliss sometimes': constraints on the emergence of the 'informed patient' in the changing landscapes of health information Sociology of Health and Illness, 25 (6). pp. 589-607. ISSN 1467-9566

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In this paper we describe and analyse results from an empirical study designed to provide insight into factors facilitating and/or inhibiting the emergence of the much-heralded 'informed patient' and its sociological equivalent, the 'reflexive patient' or 'reflexive consumer'. In particular, we seek to examine the relationship between information and empowerment in a healthcare context and assess the significance of the Internet in mediating this relationship. The paper draws on data from interviews with 32 mid-life women concerned to know about HRT for the relief of menopausal symptoms. Having analysed these women's 'information practices', we conclude that constraints on the emergence of the informed patient identity exist within both patient and practitioner communities and within the space occupied by both in the medical encounter. In particular, in this paper we identify a tension caused by the emphasis on 'information for choice' in the informed patient discourse which itself obscures the potential conflict between lay and expert/medical knowledges in the clinical encounter.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: informed patient; information for choice; Internet; media; patient empowerment; women; HRT
Subjects: G000 Computing and Mathematical Sciences > G500 Information Systems
B000 Health Professions > B700 Nursing and Midwifery
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1111/1467-9566.00360
Faculties: Faculty of Health and Social Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics > Social Informatics
Depositing User: editor snam
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2015 16:57
URI: http://eprints.brighton.ac.uk/id/eprint/347

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