Webinar Replay: An Anthropologic Look Into Online Patient Communities

As previously presented at SXSW.

From the beginning, the Internet has allowed patients and caregivers to create online communities that provide something offline communities cannot. In the case of rare genetic disorders, it is a chance to connect with others who know what you are facing; in the case of debilitating disease, a chance to talk openly with others who know what it is like to live in an able-bodied society. The same way that deaf communities sprung up independently and without formal impetus throughout the world, online communities lack formal institutional structures, and come in a number of shapes and sizes, with different cultural norms, interactional rules, and languages.

Anthropology and linguistics, as sciences focusing on society and communication, are ideally suited to unpack and understand these communities. We explore real-world examples of online health-related communities, the belief structures of groups, the fault-lines that exist, and what these analyses tell us about the real-world needs and experiences of community members.

Don’t Miss!

  • Discover the difference between online communities and online health communities. Hint: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 
  • Explore the characteristics of communities- both structurally and virtually- and how the two can help draw analysis
  • Learn what a community of practice is and the 3 crucial defining components
  • Plus Fun Fact: Watch this webinar and you’ll be 2 degrees away from Matt Damon! (Unfortunately not in the same community of practice!)


And of course, don’t forget to update (or create) your WEGO Health account.

More questions? We’d love to help! Shoot us any questions you have and we’ll be sure to answer at community@wegohealth.com.

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Brad is the Director of Medical Anthropology at Havas Health and You, an integrated global network of health and wellness communications agencies. He has been studying medical culture for over 20 years. He received his doctorate in linguistics from Stanford University in 1998, examining the experiences and processes in place for multilingual patients in a large public hospital, and since then he has focused on doctor-patient dialogue and medical anthropology in numerous settings, including hospitals, multicultural clinics, and patient’s homes.  Check out Brad’s Linkedin and Researchgate.


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