|M.Sc Student||Guarino Ayala|
|Subject||The Impact of Reference Group on Patients Legitimation|
of a New Medical Technology
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisor||Professor Albert Goldberg|
The present study examines the variables that influence individuals in the legitimation process of a new medical technology. A theoretical model, based on the diffusion of innovation framework, is introduced, and it is utilized explicitly to study a medical innovation. The legitimation concept itself is examined and divided into two separate and distinct variables. The first, is legitimation of a new medical problem, which reflects the respondent’s opinion on the degree of influence that the medical problem has on his life. The second, is legitimation of a new medical specialization, which reflects the respondents’ grasp of the medical community as an authority capable of dealing with the problem. This new division enhances the understanding of the diffusion of a new medical technology by elucidating and conceptualizing a major component of it. The medical problem studied was Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome. Questionnaires from 362 subjects, who were diagnosed in the Technion’s Sleep Medical Center, were analyzed. Statistical analysis from this data suggests that the measure of legitimation given by various reference groups increases the legitimation given by the patients. Reference groups were also found to support the different stages of the patient’s information gathering - awareness; interest and trial. Medical authorities were found especially instrumental in these stages. Other variables that influence the patient’s legitimation were low quality of life, orientation towards different aspects of health and medicine, age, and financial state. In addition, the analysis suggests that higher legitimation influences higher level of compliance to treatment. Based on the findings of this study, practical measures could be adapted by change agents when trying to implement a new medical technology.