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Abstract

Patient-centered e-health (PCEH) is an increasingly important part of health information technology. Yet the literature in this area is mainly descriptive and atheoretical, which greatly limits opportunities for research advancement. This observation motivated us to undertake a program to explore and identify essential components that can underpin development of a guiding theory of PCEH (i.e., a set of robust constructs and relationships that are generalizable and prescriptive across diverse PCEH services). Our work builds upon the proposition that benefits of PCEH can be increased by incorporating three essential characteristics: patient-focus, patient-activity, and patient-empowerment. We conduct a literature review of e-health research published between 2007 and 2011 to assess the relevance of these characteristics to the underlying domain and their relationships to one another. The results indicate the three characteristics are generalizable to the existing PCEH research literature, are abstract across place and time, and exhibit substantial interrelationships. These findings are encouraging to further development of a guiding theory of PCEH.

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