Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


English Rhetoric and Composition


Lucía Durá

Second Advisor

Soyeon Lee


Veterans often access healthcare services through the Veterans Affairs (VA) website, though not all veterans have the same experiences or success rates. This study sought to understand the nature of the veteran-as-patient experience accessing healthcare via The purpose of this dissertation study was to explore the rhetoricity (i.e., situational and contextual dependence and propensity to affect action) of virtual healthcare space and how it impacts patient participation for veterans seeking healthcare through the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare website. Through a mixed-methods study, I learned how functions rhetorically as a non-human actor, posing challenges to and facilitating usersâ?? navigation and access to healthcare, and how the web space impacts their agency. Additionally, this work showcased ways that virtual healthcare space entangles (or intertwines) with other actors (i.e., agent or participant that/who moves within a situation or impacts it) as veterans-as-patients access it via; the work from this project illuminates the rhetoricity of a virtual healthcare space and how that comprehension applies to (a) challenging rhetorical ontology, and to (b) better understanding the touchpoints between users and technical communicators/designers. Analysis of the data set collected for this project yielded the following conclusions: veteransâ?? perceptions of their experiences accessing healthcare through vary based on their needs and digital literacy; functions rhetorically as a non-human actor by providing and inhibiting perceived access to healthcare through its current and potential design and available utilities; virtual healthcare space entangles with other actors through points of friction and ease as veterans-as-patients access it via; and the entanglement of virtual healthcare space and other actors affects the work and perspectives of technical communicators and designers through the clear need for additional considerations of individual perceptions and alternative UX testing methods.




Recieved from ProQuest

File Size


File Format


Rights Holder

Luciana Maria Herman