The Rise of Patient Experiences: Evidence, Distraction, or Final Arbiter

Sue Ziebland

University of Oxford  
Professor of Medical Sociology
Director of Health Experiences Research Group

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
4:00-5:00 pm
1345 Health Sciences Learning Center

Refreshments will be available after the lecture.

Patients' experiences are all over the Internet--on blogs, Twitter feeds, YouTube, patient websites such as HealthTalkOnline and PatientsLikeMe, and proprietary sites such as Angie's List. Patients' experiences are also gathered through patient surveys, patient-reported outcome and experience measures, feedback sites such as, and through "real-time" feedback at bedsides.

The aim of this talk is to consider why patients' experiences have become the focus of such attention in health policy and research, and whether this current focus on experience is a distraction, a vital part of the evidence, or the "final arbiter" of health and care delivery. With reference to health policy and practice in the UK and US, the talk will cover:

  • How and why patients' experiences are being collected and shared
  • The differences between "patient experiences," "patient outcomes," and "satisfaction"
  • Whose experiences are represented online? How do we know what to trust?
  • What can be learned from patients' experiences?

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About Sue Ziebland

Sue Ziebland is a professor of medical sociology and leads the Health Experiences Research Group in the University of Oxford's Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. Her background is in health sociology, with a particular focus on qualitative health research. She has published over 110 articles in peer reviewed journals and raised more than £16 million for research grants (over £10 million as PI). She is a founding member of the Board of DIPEx International, which includes representatives from Australia, Japan, Spain, Korea, Canada, Israel, Germany, and the Netherlands who conduct research on people's experiences of major illnesses and health conditions. Sue is a research fellow at Green Templeton College Oxford, and was appointed as a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator in April 2013.