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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    • "A recent exception is Mudry and Strong's (2012) study on how members of an online forum for problem gamblers discursively co-constructed their status as a recovering gambler. Another example is a conversation analysis of an online forum for people with a bipolar disorder that revealed an " apparent mismatch between what the new user wanted and what the forum gave " (Vayreda & Antaki, 2009, p. 940). However, online communities for people with contested conditions have been explored in various other ways. "
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    ABSTRACT: In this article we report on a study that seeks to explore how the contested chronic condition myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), one of the current medical diagnoses for medically unexplained long-term exhaustion, is negotiated within the context of Norwegian internet sites. From an analysis of discussions on 14 internet forums sustained by and for people living with ME, we seek to understand how their online activity sustains a virtual symbolic community (VSC). After exploring the content on these sites, we identified four discursive domains, or fields of conversation, that are demarcated by a discursive frame, or norms, values and goals that define and reinforce the boundaries of the community. Interpreting discursive domains and their discursive frame provides insight not only to the culture of the ME VSC but also to its role in an international social health movement, including its potential for becoming politically influential. Full text:
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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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    • "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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