Information Rx: Prescribing good consumerism and responsible citizenship
Recent medical informatics and sociological literature has painted the image of a new type of patient-one that is reflexive and informed, with highly specified information needs and perceptions, as well as highly developed skills and tactics for acquiring information. Patients have been re-named "reflexive consumers." At the same time, literature about the questionable reliability of web-based information has suggested the need to create both user tools that have pre-selected information and special guidelines for individuals to use to check the individual characteristics of the information they encounter. In this article, we examine suggestions that individuals must be assisted in developing skills for "reflexive consumerism" and what these particular skills should be. Using two types of data (discursive data from websites and promotional items, and supplementary data from interviews and ethnographic observations carried out with those working to sustain these initiatives), we examine how users are directly addressed and discussed. We argue that these initiatives prescribe skills and practices that extend beyond finding and assessing information on the internet and demonstrate that they include ideals of consumerism and citizenship.