Journal article

The 'expert patient': empowerment or medical dominance? The case of weight loss, pharmaceutical drugs and the Internet

NJ Fox, KJ Ward, AJ O'Rourke

SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE | PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD | Published : 2005

Abstract

Do 'informed' or 'expert' patients challenge dominant traditions in biomedicine or simply adopt these as conventional ways of thinking about body shape and size, illness and health? This paper examines this question in relation to the use of the weight-loss drug Xenical by participants in an Internet forum for obese and overweight people. Ethnographic and interview data from the forum provides evidence that participants share information and support each other as they use Xenical, and in the process emerge as 'expert patients' in relation to their body shape and its treatment. However, it is argued that while an 'expert patient' can be perceived as desirable, enabling the democratisation of ..

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