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How Online Patient-Provider Communication Impacts Quality of Life: Examining the Role of Patient-Centered Care and Health Competence

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The question of how patient-provider communication affects health outcomes has been a longstanding concern for health communication scholarship and practice. As patient-provider communication becomes increasingly mediated by digital technologies, much research has sought to compare online patient-provider communication (OPPC) with that conducted in-person, weighing its relative merits against its costs and barriers. This line of inquiry has mostly focused on the comparative benefits of OPPC for service delivery with little attempt to link these benefits to the wider health implications of OPPC. Consequently, the mechanisms that explain the impacts of OPPC on patients’ overall wellbeing have been underexamined. Through a survey of 681 participants in China, this study examined the direct and indirect pathways between OPPC and quality of life (i.e., sleep, exercise, social activities, and psychological wellbeing). Our results demonstrate statistically significant direct relationships between OPPC and the four quality-of-life constructs examined as well as the mediation effects of patient-centered care and health competence in these relationships. The findings call for greater attention to the longer-term contributions of OPPC in empowering patients, especially those who are underserved by the healthcare system.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Communication, University of Macau, 2: Department of Communication Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University,

Publication date: February 23, 2023

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