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Patients and health care practitioners alike are using the Internet and specifically online health social networks to gain access to knowledge and social support that they could not obtain as quickly or efficiently from their traditional face-to-face social networks. Given concerns about the quality of information available on the Internet and the differences between social interaction online and offline, it is important to determine whether this new phenomenon influences health decision behavior. We propose a framework for investigating the influence online health social networks may have on the health decisions that patients and their physicians make. We also propose a number of research questions that flow from this framework.
Date of Conference: 4-7 Jan. 2011