Social Support and Unsolicited Advice in a Bipolar Disorder Online Forum

Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain.
Qualitative Health Research (Impact Factor: 2.19). 08/2009; 19(7):931-42. DOI: 10.1177/1049732309338952
Source: PubMed


How does a newly diagnosed user get inducted into a forum dedicated to people suffering from bipolar disorder? Is their opening message "matched" by the forum's reply? We add to the literature on social support online by using conversation analysis (CA) to explore an apparent contradiction between a new user's first post and forum members' replies with ostensibly unsolicited advice. CA reveals the intimate relation between turns in sequence, an aspect of online communication largely ignored in existing work on social support. Seen from this perspective, giving unsolicited advice, although apparently a "mismatch," turns out to be a consequence of the open design of the new user's initial posting. We speculate that such unsolicited advice might function at the ideological level to induct the new user into the mores of the group, not only in the kind of support it countenances giving, but into the very meaning of bipolarity itself.

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    • "Five studies examined opportunities for patients with psychosis to find peer support through the Internet (Bauer et al., 2013; Chang, 2009; Haker et al., 2005; Schrank et al., 2010; Vayreda & Antaki, 2009). The peer support consisted mainly of receiving information on their illness and its treatment and on sharing experiences with fellow patients. "
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    International Journal of Social Psychiatry 11/2014; 61(1). DOI:10.1177/0020764014556392 · 1.15 Impact Factor
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    • "Unfortunately, Internet forums for SLE patients (Mendelson, 2003) have received limited attention from health psychologists , if compared with other disorders, for example, cancer (Gooden and Winefield, 2007; Im et al., 2009; Lieberman and Goldstein, 2005; Sullivan, 2003), HIV/AIDS (Mo & Coulson (2010); Rier, 2007), and bipolar disorders (e.g. Vayreda and Antaki, 2009). Through this exploratory study, we wanted to contribute to fill this gap, analyzing the content of an online forum devoted to SLE. "
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    Journal of Health Psychology 03/2013; 19(5). DOI:10.1177/1359105313477674 · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    • "The analysis in this paper is based on a few selected threads, and, in line with the majority of discursive analyses, is not intended to be representative, but rather seeks to focus on a theoretically and empirically interesting phenomenon, see for example [6,22,23]. In a discursive analysis, data is not "coded", but attention is paid to sequencing of posts, to exact words and phrases used, to timing of responses (where relevant), and to the fine details of exactly how someone performs the activity of posting, as evidenced by their written post, and the ways in which these details tend to elicit systematic responses. "
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