Romanian and German Seniors in Quest of Online Health-Related Information: An Exploratory Comparative Study
In the last years a shift in the practice of medical communication has occurred and it leads to a displacement from a paternalistic model of patient-provider information toward a model implying an embeddedness of the medical and human values in the medical interaction and in the decision-taking process of the informed patient. Researches show that older adults respond differently to online communication than younger adults. In this context, seniors face new challenges as regards health-related information and medical communication. The present study deals comparatively with the health-related internet use by the seniors in two European countries: Romania and Germany. Using a qualitative methodology, which involved the in-depth semi-structured interviewing of twenty persons aged 65 years or over who used the internet including for health-related search, we tried to find out which are the similarities and differences between the two samples as concerns health-related online informing and medical communication. Our research has revealed a number of interesting results and inferences. Thus, while between the two samples there are similarities as regards using the internet as a starting point for general information related to health and making informed medical decisions, there exist also a series of differences as regards various aspects, such as the health-related internet use itself – the interest and the ways of searching, the accessed content and websites, the trust in the reliability of the online information, the online feedback and activism etc., as well as the openness to discuss with the physicians about the information gained by the internet consumption.
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