The effect of doctor-consumer interaction on social media on consumers' health behaviors: Cross-sectional study

Tailai Wu, Zhaohua Deng, Zhanchun Feng, Darrell J. Gaskin, Donglan Zhang, Ruoxi Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Both doctors and consumers have engaged in using social media for health purposes. Social media has changed traditional one-to-one communication between doctors and patients to many-to-many communication between doctors and consumers. However, little is known about the effect of doctor-consumer interaction on consumers' health behaviors. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate how doctor-consumer interaction in social media affects consumers' health behaviors. Methods: On the basis of professional-client interaction theory and social cognitive theory, we propose that doctor-consumer interaction can be divided into instrumental interaction and affective interaction. These two types of interactions influence consumers' health behaviors through declarative knowledge (DK), self-efficacy (SE), and outcome expectancy (OE). To validate our proposed research model, we employed the survey method and developed corresponding measurement instruments for constructs in our research model. A total of 352 valid answers were collected, and partial least square was performed to analyze the data. Results: Instrumental doctor-consumer interaction was found to influence consumers' DK (t294=5.763, P<.001), SE (t294=4.891, P<.001), and OE (t294=7.554, P<.001) significantly, whereas affective doctor-consumer interaction also impacted consumers' DK (t294=4.025, P<.001), SE (t294=4.775, P<.001), and OE (t294=4.855, P<.001). Meanwhile, consumers' DK (t294=3.838, P<.001), SE (t294=3.824, P<.001), and OE (t294=2.985, P<.01) all significantly affected consumers' health behaviors. Our mediation analysis showed that consumers' DK, SE, and OE partially mediated the effect of instrumental interaction on health behaviors, whereas the three mediators fully mediated the effect of affective interaction on health behaviors. Conclusions: Compared with many intentional intervention programs, doctor-consumer interaction can be treated as a natural cost-effective intervention to promote consumers' health behaviors. Meanwhile, both instrumental and affective interaction should be highlighted for the best interaction results. DK, SE, and OE are working mechanisms of doctor-consumer interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere73
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Health behavior
  • Medical informatics
  • Physician patient relationships
  • Psychological theory
  • Social media
  • Social theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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