Working Papers: Samantha Adams

Samantha is Assignment Coordinator of the Erasmus International Masters in Health and Information Management, a programme of the Institute of Health Policy and Management (iBMG). Her current research includes an interest in health-focussed blogging by patients, and this interest also provides for the workshop contribution.

Samantha’s contribution concerns the use of blogs as a data collection tool for evidence-based policy and improvement of services. The blogs that health-related businesses and public institutions increasingly turn to for data are blog-sites through which patients are (supposedly) enabled to gain the information they need to ‘manage’ their own care situation: patients become both information producers and users through the self-management of care information that health-care blogs provide. However, can the unmediated personal experiences and privately collected and shared information be effectively (and ethically) transferred to the context of evidence-based policy development?…

This contribution — a project in the making — follows on from a paper Samantha has submitted to an international conference on information technology in health care (ITHC 2007) entitled Using blogging tools to help individuals record their experiences: An exploration and review of two commercial web applications in the Netherlands.

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5 responses to “Working Papers: Samantha Adams

  1. This is a really interesting topic and it reminds me some sutdies about knwoledge production in e-patients communities on the Internet. There is an interesting article on PLoS Medicine (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=16060721#N0x8396670.0x84b0730) that shows that in one group of the e-patients website BrainTalk Communities (http://brain.hastypastry.net/forums/index.php) analyzed, only a 6% of the information published by patients were mistaken:

    The BrainTalk Communities
    epilepsy support group that we
    observed was facilitated by volunteer
    patient moderators, with little or
    no professional input. About 6% of
    the postings contained information
    that some of our medical reviewers
    considered at least partly mistaken,
    misinterpreted, outdated, or
    incomplete.

    Translated to blogs the question is different, of course, because the dynamic of knowledge production if different (is it really different?). It is probably that a blogger reads many other sites and blogs to prepare his/her post, but at the same time the blog is a personal space and the mecahnism for correcting mistakes are sure different… anyway, a really interesting topic.

  2. Thanks for the reference! However, I would hazard that dynamics of knowledge production is not the first question that springs to mind. Is not a prior question at what level of social performance it is taken to be self-evident that ‘medical reviewers’ are assumed to provide a measure of information correctness? In other words, perhaps questions about the nature of expertise and trust — as mechanisms for structuring control of & access to ‘knowledge’as itself dynamic in both form and content — should precede questions about the dynamics & form of its online representation and reliability.

  3. Well, ernstth (is it ernstth or ernst?) it depends on your research question, of course. They are too completely different questions to ask about the “nature of expertise and trust” and the construction of expertise on/through the Internet in relation to the scientific expertise. The last one was my point.

    In that case, you don’t have necessarily to assume anything a prior about the nature of ‘scientific expertise’ (whether it is a more sounded knowledge or not), but you just can analyze how scientists recognize (in the above mention case of Braintalk communities) that the knowledge (and not only information) produced in that communities is correct if compared with the ‘scientific’ knowledge. And the, it is juts an step forward to raise questions about expertise

  4. Fair point, but with my comment I meant less a different research question then a hermeneutic issue. I meant to make reference to the idea that the social performance of expertise being untroubled would seem part of the study you mention — as it does in other (offline) forms. Analysis of how experts themselves ‘recognise’ the factuality of knowledge-claims against the scientific knowledge-base from which their own expertise-claims derive risks leading to a classic circular form of argument. I expect that Samantha’s contribution will give us plenty more food for thought on these matters!

  5. (apologies, ernstth should indeed be simply ernst). I am still getting the hang of this new environment.

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