Using E-Health for Arthritis & Chronic Illness: An In-Depth Study



E-health is a relatively new term for health care practice that involves electronic communication (e.g.  Internet tools, social networks and self-monitoring applications) and the public. Given the growth of innovative technologies that aim to support patients in participating in their own care, e-health is often credited for advancing patient empowerment, patient-centred care and evidence-based patient choice.



In 2010, 70% of Canadian Internet users searched for medical or health-related information, up from 59% in 2007. Yet, despite this rapid increase in adoption, surprisingly little scientific research has examined how people with chronic illness experience e-health in their daily lives. Findings from our previous research suggest that e-health has profound implications for the relationship between patients and health care providers, but the attitudes of health care providers towards e-health remain also understudied.



Led by Prof. Catherine Backman, researchers are interviewing patients with chronic conditions and health care providers to advance understanding of 1) how e-health is being used, 2) how e-health affects interactions between health professionals and patients, and 3) the potential benefits and harms that e-health presents patients, health care providers and health service delivery.

The research method is based upon systematic qualitative research approaches, informed by ethical reasoning. Findings will contribute to a developing knowledge base on e-health to enhance patient choices and improve health services for Canadians with chronic illness.

Scientific posters presented about this project include:

2014-03-12_1019_Poster-ImageExploring E-health Ethics and Multi-Morbidity: A Qualitative Study of Patient and Clinician Views and Experiences of Using Digital Media for Health Purposes Presented at the British Columbia Alliance on Telehealth Policy and Research Workshop, Vancouver BC, June 2013

Oral presentations given about this study include:

stock-illustration-18152236-PosterPreliminary Findings Exploring E-health Ethics Presented at Arthritis Research Canada’s Arthritis Patient Advisory Board “Reaching Out with Arthritis Research”, November 2013


Scientific papers published about this study include:

2014-03-17_1630_PapereHealth technologies, multimorbidity, and the office visit: qualitative interview study on the perspectives of physicians and nurses. Macdonald GG, Townsend AF, Adam P, Li LC, Kerr S, McDonald M, Backman CL. Journal of medical Internet research. 2018 Jan;20(1).

2014-03-17_1630_PapereHealth, participatory medicine, and ethical care: a focus group study of patients’ and health care providers’ use of health-related internet information. Townsend A, Leese J, Adam P, McDonald M, Li LC, Kerr S, Backman CL. Journal of medical Internet research. 2015 Jun;17(6).

2014-03-17_1630_PaperExploring eHealth ethics and multi-morbidity: protocol for an interview and focus group study of patient and health care provider views and experiences of using digital media for health purposes. Townsend A, Adam P, Li LC, McDonald M, Backman CL. JMIR research protocols. 2013 Jul;2(2).

Principal Investigators

Catherine Backman

Anne Townsend



Paul Adam

Linda Li

Kam Shojania

Michael McDonald

Sally Wyke


Consumer Collaborators

Sheila Kerr

Gordon Whitehead

2 responses to “Using E-Health for Arthritis & Chronic Illness: An In-Depth Study”

  1. Patricia Mackenzie

    I would still like to know more about my osteo arthritis and what medications are appropriate

  2. kevin dyer

    i have osteoarthritis in both shoulders ,right knee and both feet

Leave a Reply