Internet, Expert Patient, and Empowerment: Activity Profiles in Virtual Communities of Chronic Kidney Patients

  • André Pereira Neto
  • Julyane Felipette Lima
  • Leticia Barbosa
  • Eda Schwartz


In recent decades, the Internet has become an integral part of the daily lives of millions of people around the world, engendering multiple transformations. In the health sector, it is increasingly used as a source of information and advice. In this context, the “expert patient” stands out. This is an individual who becomes a specialist by conducting an extensive search for information about his health condition online and sharing his experiences in virtual communities. In the face of this setting, this chapter reflects on the relationship between empowerment, “expert patient,” and the biomedical model by examining two online groups on Facebook that include chronic kidney patients and their relatives, friends, and caregivers. It identifies the activity profiles of participants posting messages – the posters. We identify three “ideal types” of posters: one has a supportive nature, another is concerned with the clinical realm of the disease, and the third is committed to patient’s rights. The results indicate that supportive and clinical posters reiterate the biomedical order, while the citizen poster is concerned with the patient’s rights as a citizen.


Expert patient Empowerment Online health information Facebook Kidney diseases 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Pereira Neto
    • 1
  • Julyane Felipette Lima
    • 2
  • Leticia Barbosa
    • 3
  • Eda Schwartz
    • 4
  1. 1.National School of Public HealthOswaldo Cruz FoundationRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Faculty of NursingFederal University of the Southern FrontierChapecóBrazil
  3. 3.Institute of Scientific and Technological Communication and Information in HealthOswaldo Cruz FoundationRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.Faculty of NursingFederal University of PelotasPelotasBrazil

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