To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Scripting the active patient in online health communities

Femke D. Vennik (Institute of Health Policy & Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Samantha A. Adams (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)
Kim Putters (Institute of Health Policy & Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Article publication date: 15 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to improve the general operationalization of an “active patient,” by examining the specific activities and skills expected of active patients.


Expected activities and necessary skills were studied through a qualitative case study into the development and use of an assistive technology (i.e. web site) aimed at stimulating active patient-ship. Interviews, observations and document analysis were used to capture and explore designers’ inscribing practices and their consequences regarding expected competences and activities of patients using the web site.


Designers inscribed two “co-design roles” that active patients were expected to perform on the web site (co-designing their own healthcare and co-designing the healthcare of peers), for which at least eight different competencies were needed. The absence of skills or facilities to apply these skills resulted in incomplete use, a different use than intended by designers and non-use of the web site.

Practical implications

Technological choices and inscribing processes determine who is able or facilitated to become active and who is not. Due to inscribed co-design roles, it also influences the extent to which already active peers are able to perform health-related activities. Different users with different conditions should be taken into account in the design as specific group characteristics can influence level of individual activity.


This study is, as far as the authors know, the first that examines the “active patient” concept by studying an assistive technology and using scripting literature, resulting in an improved understanding of what it means to become “active” in terms of skills and activities.



Funding of this research was provided by MijnZorgnet. The role of the funder in the research process was limited to providing financial support. The authors wish to thank all employees who worked at MijnZorgnet for the opportunity to study their daily activities and for sharing their thoughts and experiences. In addition the authors would like to thank all of the interviewees for taking the time to talk to the authors and for providing them with interesting and relevant information. This paper has further benefited from the comments of colleagues and the authors especially like to thank Lieke Oldenhof and Hester van de Bovenkamp for their contributions.


Vennik, F.D., Adams, S.A. and Putters, K. (2015), "Scripting the active patient in online health communities", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 86-99.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited