CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Steven D. Zink

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

William L. Hafner


The use of online Canadian pharmacies has grown over the past decade due to lower cost medications and ease of use. In order for these firms to gain business and marketing information, they collect a variety of consumer data. This has raised concerns among consumers as to privacy issues of the data collected by these online firms. However, researchers have not effectively examined how online consumers value specific privacy factors when deciding whether to use the sites. Also, studies have not determined if many of these sites have comprehensive privacy policies that indicate if they protect consumers' data for a variety of factors. This research included a study of 25 major online Canadian pharmacies to determine the completeness of privacy policy factors among this population. This survey showed the majority of sites did contain a privacy policy. However, the comprehensiveness of policies differed vastly among the sites. This dissertation also included an investigation of consumers' views of the privacy policy factors they feel are important when deciding to use these pharmacy sites. Results of a survey of 147 users of medical Web sites showed that consumers were concerned about privacy on these sites, with opt-in, security and consumer/licensing issues of high importance. However, the study also showed that for consumers who actually used an online pharmacy during the past year, cost savings, rather than privacy issues were the principal concern. This dissertation created an instrument that online firms can use to evaluate consumers perceptions of privacy policies, as well as which policies are important to include on a Web site.

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