Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 34 Number 1 2017 pp. 11-39

The Consensus Effect in Online Health-Care Communities

Yan, Lu (LUCY) and Tan, Yong


Online health-care communities have become increasingly popular among patients, enabling them to connect to a large population of patients who suffer from similar health problems and to access massive amounts of health-related information. We are interested in investigating how other patients’ consensus on treatment experiences affects patients’ perceived treatment effectiveness. In this regard, we use the cue diagnosticity framework to examine patients’ shared treatment reviews. By controlling individual heterogeneity and the inhomogeneous weighting function of social influence on patients, we find that consensus has a positive impact on patients’ perceived treatment effectiveness. This positive effect, however, is negatively moderated by the characteristics of the shared information, including volume and patients’ precommitment and social connectedness. Overall, we find that perceived treatment effectiveness is closely related to community participants’ perceptions about the treatment. These findings can be used to help health-care practitioners incorporate patients’ experiences into health-care systems and develop effective interventions to help patients better engage in their disease management.

Key words and phrases: cue diagnosticity, health-information sharing, latent variable model, online health care, perceived treatment effectiveness, random coefficient model, social network