3_How the Internet Affects Patients' Experience of Cancer - Ziebland

3_How the Internet Affects Patients' Experience of Cancer - Ziebland

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Sometimes they looked for information after being given contradictory advice or realising that their doctors found it hard to keep up with a rapidly changing subject. The internet also enables people to investigate the expertise and reputation of a hospital and staff and any evidence of “postcode rationing.” As the extract from respondent BC41 (box 2) shows, searches on the internet may be used after treatment for reassurance that optimal treatment was given. Other respondents identified treat- ments they preferred (PC42, CC19) and options that they suspected they would not have been offered (TC05). People differ in how they handle the information they have gained and how it affects their relationship with their doctors. However, the fact that this “checking up” can be achieved covertly without a doctor’s knowledge may avoid threats to “face” that could endan- ger the doctor-patient relationship and risk unnecessary conflict. 17 18 Displaying competence Another way that the internet is changing people’s relationship with their illness is that they can gain, maintain, and display familiarity with a remarkable body of medical and experiential knowledge about their illness. Radley and Billig have pointed out that “being a good patient means having to fulfil a sociologically ambivalent position. The patient must appear to be more than a patient, a display of healthiness, or normality is also required for the individual to appear worthy of receiving the entitlements.” 19 The ability to access a wide range of disparate information on the internet, coupled with the opportunity to present themselves as technically proficient and discriminating users of such information, enabled respondents to display a modern form of competence and social fitness in the face of serious illness. Indeed, the following quote suggests that there may almost be an
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This note was uploaded on 10/10/2010 for the course ENG 000121 taught by Professor Mcgrand during the Spring '10 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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