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Open Access Research article

Public Claims about Automatic External Defibrillators: An Online Consumer Opinions Study

Arthur G Money1*, Julie Barnett2 and Jasna Kuljis2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 3JU, UK

2 Department of Information Systems and Computing, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH, UK

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:332  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-332

Published: 18 May 2011



Patients are no longer passive recipients of health care, and increasingly engage in health communications outside of the traditional patient and health care professional relationship. As a result, patient opinions and health related judgements are now being informed by a wide range of social, media, and online information sources. Government initiatives recognise self-delivery of health care as a valuable means of responding to the anticipated increased global demand for health resources. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), designed for the treatment of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), have recently become available for 'over the counter' purchase with no need for a prescription. This paper explores the claims and argumentation of lay persons and health care practitioners and professionals relating to these, and how these may impact on the acceptance, adoption and use of these devices within the home context.


We carry out a thematic content analysis of a novel form of Internet-based data: online consumer opinions of AED devices posted on, the world's largest online retailer. A total of #83 online consumer reviews of home AEDs are analysed. The analysis is both inductive, identifying themes that emerged from the data, exploring the parameters of public debate relating to these devices, and also driven by theory, centring around the parameters that may impact upon the acceptance, adoption and use of these devices within the home as indicated by the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM).


Five high-level themes around which arguments for and against the adoption of home AEDs are identified and considered in the context of TAM. These include opinions relating to device usability, usefulness, cost, emotional implications of device ownership, and individual patient risk status. Emotional implications associated with AED acceptance, adoption and use emerged as a notable factor that is not currently reflected within the existing TAM.


The value, credibility and implications of the findings of this study are considered within the context of existing AED research, and related to technology acceptance theory. From a methodological perspective, this study demonstrates the potential value of online consumer reviews as a novel data source for exploring the parameters of public debate relating to emerging health care technologies.