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Do ethics drive value co-creation behavior in online health communities?

Muhammad Salman Latif (School of Economics and Management, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China)
Jian-Jun Wang (School of Economics and Management, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China)
Mohsin Shahzad (LNU-MSU College of International Business, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian, China)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 13 December 2022

Issue publication date: 9 January 2024




Online health communities (OHCs) have been recognized as emerging platforms on the Internet used for health purposes. Despite its emergence, developing a successful OHC is still a challenge. Prior studies identified that value co-creation behavior (VCB) of members is an essential factor for sustaining OHCs; however, little is known about how members’ behavior drives to co-create value? Therefore, this study aims to discover the inclusive mechanism for members’ VCB in OHCs.


The authors develop the study model and hypothesis based on the service-dominant logic of value co-creation theory and social support (SS) literature. The survey data of 608 active OHCs users in China were analyzed using partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM).


The results revealed that SS positively affects members’ VCBs. Ethical aspects; Trust and ethical interaction (EI) partially mediate their relationships. In addition, community members’ current health status (CHS) negatively moderates the relationships between SS and VCB. From the findings, it becomes evident that only SS is not enough; developing an ethical environment in OHCs, i.e. trust and ethically rich interactions among members, significantly helps OHCs to promote co-creation. Also, the negative moderation of CHS findings provides novel insights when cramming health conditions.


Exploring the complex mechanism of co-creation in OHC, the authors illustrate the potential of service-dominant logic to create new theoretical insight for healthcare and provide the framework of co-creation with ethics for the first time. This will extend the application of ethics in healthcare services and offer a robust platform from which the understanding of drivers of members’ VCB can be advanced in the OHC context.



The authors thank the Senior Editor, Professor Nianxin Wang, for his precious time, and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions.

Declaration of Competing Interest: The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

Funding: The study was funded by the Major Projects of Social Science Planning Foundation of Liaoning Province (No: L21ZD006 and L22ZD003) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No: DUT21RW406).


Latif, M.S., Wang, J.-J. and Shahzad, M. (2024), "Do ethics drive value co-creation behavior in online health communities?", Information Technology & People, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 1-28.



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