Skype or skip? Motivations, online self-disclosure, and well-being in online medical consultations

This project was co-financed by ODISSEI in the 2018 LISS call for proposals.
Researchers: Nadine Bol and Marjolijn Antheunis, Tilburg University

The emergence of digital health provides doctors with new ways to communicate with patients, for example via online applications such as Skype. Patients might balance benefits (such as efficiency) and potential barriers (like privacy costs) in their decision to use and disclose personal information about themselves via digital video applications. The privacy calculus offers a theoretical explanation as to why people decide to disclose information, a crucial predictor of well-being. It posits that the more benefits people expect, the more willing they are to self-disclose, whereas the more costs they perceive, the less willing they are to self-disclose.

In this study, the researchers apply the privacy calculus to understand self-disclosure in online doctor-patient interactions. The aim of this study is to understand perceived costs and expected benefits to disclose personal information to a doctor via digital video applications, and how it relates to well-being. The researchers will use a vignette study, in which research participants respond to a hypothetical situation, thereby revealing their perceptions, values, social norms, or impressions of events. A sample of 2,086 respondents from the LISS panel will be asked to imagine themselves being in a situation where they have to consult a doctor about a medical situation. After reading the scenario, participants will answer questions related to perceived benefits, costs, trust, self-efficacy, willingness to self-disclose, and well-being.

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