Exploring Doctors' Willingness to Provide Online Counseling Services: The Roles of Motivations and Costs

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 22;17(1):110. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17010110.


With the impetus of information communication technology (ICT), emerging eHealth has attracted increasing number of doctors' participation in online health platforms, which provide various potential benefits to doctors. However, previous studies on eHealth have seldom distinguished different service modes provided by doctors. In addition, the bulk of the literature has considered doctors' motivations based solely on online environments. To fill this gap, this study combines expectancy theory and the Bagozzi, Dholakia, and Basuroy (BDB) model to examine the relationships between anticipated outcomes, performance expectations, and effort intentions from online and offline perspectives. Doctors' behavioral intentions are further divided into two categories: the willingness to offer free services and paid services. Using SmartPLS, this study conducts structural equation modeling (SEM) to analyze 311 sample data. The results show that extrinsic motivations (i.e., extrinsic rewards, expected relationships, and image) and intrinsic motivation (i.e., a sense of self-worth) significantly influence the desire to serve patients well, which in turn positively affects the willingness to offer free services and the willingness to offer paid services. Moreover, counseling time is confirmed as the main cost, which negatively moderates the relationships between desire and behavioral intentions. The findings provide theoretical insights for eHealth and provide practical suggestions to develop marketing strategies for online health platform providers.

Keywords: BDB model; behavioral intention; eHealth; expectancy theory; online consultation; online health platform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Counseling
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Telemedicine* / economics
  • Young Adult