Social support in an Internet weight loss community.
ABSTRACT To describe social support for weight loss shared by members of a large Internet weight loss community.
We conducted a mixed-methods study with surveys (n=193) and interviews (n=13) of community members along with a content analysis of discussion forum messages (n=1924 messages). Qualitative data were analyzed for social support themes.
Survey respondents were primarily white (91.4%) and female (93.8%) with mean age 37.3 years and mean body mass index 30.9. They used forums frequently, with 56.8% reading messages, 36.1% replying to messages, and 18.5% posting messages to start a discussion related to weight loss on a daily or more frequent basis. Major social support themes were encouragement and motivation, mentioned at least once by 87.6% of survey respondents, followed by information (58.5%) and shared experiences (42.5%). Subthemes included testimonies, recognition for success, accountability, friendly competition, and humor. Members valued convenience, anonymity, and the non-judgmental interactions as unique characteristics of Internet-mediated support.
This Internet weight loss community plays a prominent role in participants' weight loss efforts. Social support within Internet weight loss communities merits further evaluation as a weight loss resource for clinicians to recommend to patients. Understanding these communities could improve how health professionals evaluate, build, harness, and manipulate social support for weight loss.
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ABSTRACT: A large number of patients rely on online health communities to exchange information and psychosocial support with their peers. Examining participation in a community and its impact on members' behaviors and attitudes is one of the key open research questions in the field of study of online health communities. In this paper, we focus on a large public breast cancer community and conduct sentiment analysis on all its posts. We investigate the impact of different factors on post sentiment, such as time since joining the community, posting activity, age of members, and cancer stage of members. We find that there is a significant increase in sentiment of posts through time, with different patterns of sentiment trends for initial posts in threads and reply posts. Factors each play a role; for instance stage-IV members form a particular sub-community with patterns of sentiment and usage distinct from others members.AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium 01/2014; 2014:1970-9.
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ABSTRACT: Background Patient empowerment is crucial in the successful self-management of people with chronic diseases. In this study, we investigated whether discussions about medicine use taking place on online message boards contribute to patient empowerment and could subsequently result in the more effective use of medicines. We discuss the extent to which patient empowerment processes occur in discussions on online message boards, focusing on patients with three disorders with different characteristics: diabetes, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Because information is an important factor in both patient empowerment and self-management, we also evaluate the quality of the information being exchanged. Methods We used a deductive thematic analysis method based on pre-existing categories. We gathered and analysed 5532 posts related to the conditions ADHD, ALS and diabetes from seven message boards (three for ADHD, three for diabetes, and one for ALS). We coded the posts for empowerment processes and the quality of the information exchanged. Results We identified patient empowerment processes in posts related to all three disorders. There is some variation in the frequency of these processes, but they show a similar order in the results: patients used the online message boards to exchange information, share personal experiences and for empathy or support. The type of information shared in these processes could contribute to the patient’s self-efficacy when it comes to medicine use. The exchanged information was either correct or largely harmless. We also observed a tendency whereby participants correct previously posted incorrect information, and refer people to a healthcare professional following a request for medical advice, e.g. concerning the choice of medicines or dosage. Conclusions Our findings show that patient empowerment processes occur in posts related to all three disorders. The type of information shared in these processes can contribute to the patient’s self-efficacy when it comes to medicine use. The tendency to refer people to a healthcare professional shows that patients still reserve an important role for healthcare professionals in the care process, despite the development towards more self-management. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12911-015-0146-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 04/2015; 15(1). DOI:10.1186/s12911-015-0146-6 · 1.50 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Health and care providers are increasingly looking to online and peer-to-peer services to supplement existing channels of assistive living technology (ALTs) provision and assessment. We describe the findings from 12 co-design workshops with 28 people from the UK representing a range of older people with and without health conditions, users of ALT and carers for people using such devices. The workshops were conducted to explore issues related to finding reliable information about ALT with the goal of gathering requirements for the design of a peer-to-peer knowledge sharing platform. Our analysis highlights how a current reliance on peers and informal networks relates to a desire to establish the authenticity and relatability of another person's experience to one's own circumstances. This connects to a perceived mistrust in information where provenance and authenticity is not clear. We use these to critique the wisdom of taking an e-marketplace and recommendation service approach to ALT provision and assessment, and offer alternatives based on our findings.CSCW 2015, Vancouver, Canada; 03/2015