The value of patient choice, self care, and patient and public involvement has been increasingly noted in the health sector. These aims cannot be achieved unless people can access high quality health information. Traditionally, health information has been based on facts and figures of the illness, and very few of them contained information on patient’s experiences (PEx). It is argued that people seek more than scientific facts. They want to know more about how other people with the same condition have experienced, and be able to share their own experience with others. Knowing other people’s experience has the potential to affect decision making, reduce one sense of isolation, and improve adjustment to the disease. At the same time, there are also concerns that PEx might have a negative effect of an individual if the experience of others contains strong emotional content, or is not directly relevant. This project will examine how people use, search for, and select PEx in online health sites or online support groups, and how exposure to PEx might influence recall and health decisions. Understanding how people use PEx online might have important implications for health care professionals on whether, when, and how they should incorporate PEx into online health information sites or online support groups.

For more information go to

Author: James Nicholson

James is a Lecturer in the School of Computer and Information Sciences. James is interested in inclusive cybersecurity and leads the CyberGuardians research project. He is also interested in usable security, social engineering, and everyday surveillance. Previously, James was a senior researcher in PaCT Lab working on the Cybersecurity Across the Lifespan (cSALSA) project. The project explores how cyber-security is understood, and the attitudes and behaviours of people to cyber-security and risk. During his time in PaCT Lab, James also worked on Choice Architecture for Information Security (ChAISe), Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC), and the Horizon 2020 project CYBECO. Prior to PaCT Lab, James worked at Open Lab, Newcastle University on the TEDDI and SiDE projects. James’ work has focused on improving user authentication, both by repurposing existing graphical authentication systems and by evaluating novel ones. He is also interested in user privacy and how groups of users (children, parents, older adults) experience location tracking technologies, as well as how CCTV video can be crowdsourced to de-centralise the surveillance landscape. More recently, he has developed tools and methodologies for uncovering and understanding employees’ mental models of security threats with the aim of improving training programmes and/or organisational policies, as well as practical means for improving users’ protection against these security threats (e.g. phishing).