IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 5084: An Empirical Study on Patients` Acceptance of Physician-Patient Interaction in Online Health Communities (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
In China, the utilization of medical resources is contentious, and a large of hospitals are seriously congested because of the huge population and uneven distribution of medical resources. Online health communities (OHCs) provide patients with platforms to interact with physicians and to get professional suggestions and emotional support. This study adopted the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology to identify factors influencing patients’ behavioral intention and usage behavior when interacting with physicians in OHCs. An investigation involving 378 valid responses was conducted through several Chinese OHCs to collect data. Confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling were utilized to test hypotheses. Both the reliability and validity of the scales were acceptable. All five hypotheses were supported, and behavioral intention played a significant mediating role between independent variables and dependent variables. This study clarified the mechanism by which performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence and attitude toward using technology affect usage behavior through the mediation of behavioral intention in OHCs. These findings suggest that OHCs can change the actions of websites such as adopting some incentives to promote patients’ intention of interaction. Physicians should understand patients’ actual attitudes toward OHCs and try to guide patients in their interactions, improving the quality of physician–patient interaction.