HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Does Inclusive Healthcare Encourage Online Mutual Aid?

Sijia Zhou (City University of Hong Kong), Jianshan Sun (Hefei University of Technology), Xin Li (City University of Hong Kong), Yong Tan (University of Washington), Does Inclusive Healthcare Encourage Online Mutual Aid? (2022):

Online platforms significantly facilitate prosocial activities by making it easier for help seekers to find help providers. Nevertheless, a critical issue is whether the users, especially underprivileged users, in prosocial platforms would like to help each other. In this paper, we investigate if external support of inclusive healthcare would trigger mutual-aid actions of underprivileged individuals, which could facilitate their self-reliance. We considered the perspective of truck drivers in China, a unique social group active in online mutual aid, and linking the data of an online mutual-aid community for truck drivers with data on China’s free rural medical checkup program to conduct the study. After addressing the identification challenges, surprisingly, we found that free medical checkups for truck drivers’ households reduced their online mutual-aid behavior. In contrast, the guidance provided to them by physicians mitigated this negative effect. We provide evidence that this may be because underprivileged users consider medical checkups as help-seeking and guidance as help-received. We also show how receiving help from inclusive healthcare could trigger users’ gratitude and increase their sociality, which facilitates mutual aid activities. The findings suggest that policymakers should encourage physician guidance within inclusive healthcare to improve sustainable development of underprivileged people.

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