Collective empowerment in online health communities : scale development and empirical validation
ID Atanasova, Sara (Author), ID Petrič, Gregor (Author)

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Background: The role of online health communities (OHCs) in patient empowerment is growing and has been increasingly studied in recent years. Research has focused primarily on individualistic conception of patients' empowerment, with much less attention paid to the role of OHCs in the development of patients' collective empowerment. Although OHCs have immense potential for empowerment that goes beyond the individual, the concept and scale of collective empowerment in OHCs have not yet been developed or validated. Objective: This study aimed to develop an instrument for measuring collective empowerment in online health communities (CE-OHC) and to test its quality by investigating its factorial structure, reliability, construct validity, and predictive validity. Methods: The CE-OHC scale was developed according to a strict methodology for developing valid and reliable scales. An initial set of 20 items was first tested in the pilot study conducted in 2016 using a sample of 280 registered users of Slovenia's largest OHC. A refined version with 11 items was tested in the main study conducted in 2018 on a random sample of 30,000 registered users of the same OHC. The final sample comprised 784 users. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) were used to investigate the factorial structure, discriminant validity, and convergent validity of the scale. Cronbach alpha coefficient was used to determine the CE-OHC scale's internal consistency. To establish the predictive validity, ordinary least squares regression was performed to test the role of CE-OHC in users' civic participation. Results: The EFA resulted in a two-factor solution, and the two factors--knowledge of resources and resource mobilization for collective action--together explain 63.8% of the variance. The second-order CFA demonstrated a good fit to the data (root mean square error of approximation=0.07) and the scale had a good internal consistency (alpha=.86). Although evidence of the scale's convergent validity was partially provided, discriminant validity of the scale remained unconfirmed. Overall, CE-OHC was confirmed to be a predictor of users' civic participation, but the influence was somewhat weak and inconsistent across two subscales. Conclusions: The proposed CE-OHC scale is a reliable and relatively valid instrument and serves as a good baseline to advance the measurement of collective empowerment in OHC contexts. This is the first scale developed for this purpose, and future research should focus on the development of a clear nomological network of the collective empowerment construct in relation to the OHC settings.

Keywords:patient empowerment, collective empowerment, online health community, psychometrics, reliability, validity, weights and measures
Work type:Article
Typology:1.01 - Original Scientific Article
Organization:FDV - Faculty of Social Sciences
Publication status:Published
Publication version:Version of Record
Number of pages:16 str.
Numbering:Vol. 21, iss. 11, art. e14392
PID:20.500.12556/RUL-128417 This link opens in a new window
ISSN on article:1438-8871
DOI:10.2196/14392 This link opens in a new window
COBISS.SI-ID:36474205 This link opens in a new window
Publication date in RUL:12.07.2021
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Record is a part of a journal

Title:Journal of medical internet research
Shortened title:JMIR, J. med. internet res.
Publisher:JMIR Publications
COBISS.SI-ID:2406629 This link opens in a new window


License:CC BY 4.0, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Description:This is the standard Creative Commons license that gives others maximum freedom to do what they want with the work as long as they credit the author.
Licensing start date:20.11.2019

Secondary language

Keywords:pacienti, kolektivno opolnomočenje, spletne zdravstvene skupnosti, psihometrija


Funder:ARRS - Slovenian Research Agency
Project number:J5-9336
Name:Priložnosti in nevarnosti spletnih zdravstvenih skupnosti za zdravstvo

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