New technologies enable a different organization of the public's admission to health care services. The article discusses whether online support groups in patient treatment are to be understood in the light of patient empowerment or within the tradition of compliance. The back-ground material of the discussion is complementary data from quantitative research on characteristics of patient support groups, and from two qualitative, in depth studies of the impact of patient networks for lung patients and for women with fertility problems. We conclude that in spite of the potential of online communities of opening up health care to the critical voice of the public, the quantitative and qualitative studies surprisingly point to a synthesis of the otherwise opposite positions of empowerment and compliance in patient care. Thereby the critical potential of online communities in health care services seems reverted into configuring ideal patients from diverse users.
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