University of Tasmania
Menzies Institute for Medical Research

Author Of 1 Presentation

Internet and Social Media Poster Presentation

P0668 - Understanding Multiple Sclerosis Massive Open Online Course: Closing The Gap On Information Asymmetry (ID 1723)

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Internet and Social Media



A key market failure in health economics is the concept of information asymmetry between the consumer and supplier where the level of knowledge and expertise is weighted to the supply-side (healthcare provider). In the information-age and the ensuing knowledge economy, people with multiple sclerosis and their carers (consumers) may become more empowered in their negotiated relationship with healthcare providers (physicians, allied-health professionals) after undertaking a fit-for-purpose Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).


We aimed to establish if our fit-for-purpose Understanding Multiple Sclerosis MOOC closed the information asymmetry gap for people with MS and their carers.


We gathered qualitative data from people with MS and their carers (consumers), and healthcare professionals (suppliers) who undertook our Understanding MS Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) through course discussion boards and a feedback survey. We postulated that qualitative research methods would establish if our fit-for-purpose MOOC closed the information asymmetry gap among the MOOC cohort. Our study used the pre-existing health economics theory of information asymmetry to inform qualitative inductive and deductive theory building about the information disseminated through our MOOC. Socio-demographic data were also analysed.


N=5,500 people consented to participate in the study with a range of 200-345 people responding to each discussion question and over 1,200 participants providing free-text responses on the course feedback survey. We found that consumers were more likely to post in discussion boards and were more likely to report knowledge gain than providers. We also identified key information sources for consumers, including MS societies and public-facing text and video blogs.


Our study indicates that information provision through online learning platforms such as the Understanding MS MOOC can operate to close the information asymmetry gap.