Together, We Can: An Exploratory Analysis of Patient-centered Crowdfunding

Joshua D. Murphy

Major Professor: Gary L. Kreps, PhD, Department of Communication

Committee Members: Katherine E. Rowan, Timothy A. Gibson

Research Hall, #162
July 23, 2019, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM


Patient-centered crowdfunding is a new, disruptive innovation that is changing the way that many patients are paying for the cost of medical treatment. GoFundMe, the leading patient-centered crowdfunding platform, uses social media-like features to help patients tell personal stories about their health situations and collect donations to help pay for care. This mixed method dissertation is the result of three interrelated exploratory research studies conducted on patient-centered crowdfunding effectiveness; that is, the reasons why some campaigns succeed, and others fail. Rogers (2003) Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) framework was utilized during the project’s conceptualization phase. Data were collected through a survey of donors, a quantitative content analysis of campaign pages, and in-depth interviews of both donors and campaign managers. The interrelated studies conducted found donors prefer campaigns with hopeful outcomes and a clear plan, that real-life support networks play an important role in successful health crowdfunding, and that individual-level characteristics such as e-health literacy can influence donor behavior. These studies uncovered several themes and future research questions that should be explored in subsequent research. This dissertation is intended to be a reference for further study on patient-centered crowdfunding and to assist patients and campaign managers who are currently using online crowdfunding platforms to pay for healthcare expenses.