In the last decade, Dutch health organisations have undergone an interesting transformation in their online presence. This transformation can be described as creating online knowledge communities. One of the drivers of this transformation has been to provide patients and their carers with trustworthy and relevant health information. In practice, this means that websites offer knowledge 'libraries' as an integrated part of the online platform, in which the latest scientific research on the illness is made available. Blogging has become an important functionality for members to share the stories of their illness. In my talk I will offer an illustration of how these changes have taken place with two Dutch health organisations. I will present some preliminary findings of a small study in which we have explored how members of these communities present their knowledge claims as part of their illness trajectories. We are beginning to see that members' epistemic practices are part of larger interactional projects that are related to identity work. It is my aim to show how these 'contextualising practices' matter for both the writer (e.g., often patients, sometimes caregivers) and the reader who visits these online platforms. I want to show how these findings can contribute to our understanding of how patients themselves construct epistemic claims and epistemic primacy as an integral part of identity work and decision making. Looking at epistemics as a member's category may pose a fruitful way of conceptualising what constitutes 'relevant' and 'trustworthy' health information and why.
27 Apr 2017
First International Conference on Health and Person-Centered Care in Digital Society.