Nurturing health-related online support groups:exploring the experience of patient moderators

Coulson, Neil S. and Shaw, Rachel L. Nurturing health-related online support groups:exploring the experience of patient moderators. Computers in Human Behaviour, 29 (4), 1695–1701.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine the views of moderators across a diverse and geographically broad range of online support groups about their moderator experiences and to explore both the personal benefits as well as challenges involved. Thirty-three patient moderators completed an online questionnaire which included a series of open-ended questions. Thematic analysis identified three themes: emergence, empowerment, nurturing. Several moderators declared their own diagnosis and for some, being able to share personal insights motivated them to establish the group and in turn offered validation. They felt empowered by helping others and learned more about the condition through accessing the "communal brain". Some felt the group aided patients' access to health services and their ability to communicate with health professionals while others worried about them becoming over-dependent. Moderators described needing to nurture their group to ensure it offered a safe space for members. Clear rules of engagement, trust, organisation skills, compassion and kindness were considered essential. Patient moderated online support groups can be successfully developed and facilitated and can be empowering for both the group member and moderator alike.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.003
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Psychology
Life & Health Sciences
Life & Health Sciences > Applied Health Research Group
Life & Health Sciences > Health Sciences
Related URLs:
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Computers in human behaviour. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Coulson, NS & Shaw, RL, 'Nurturing health-related online support groups: exploring the experience of patient moderators' Computers in human behaviour, vol. 29, no. 4 (2013) DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.003
Uncontrolled Keywords: empowerment,moderators,online support groups,support,thematic analysis,Human-Computer Interaction,Psychology(all),Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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