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Information 2018, 9(10), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9100259

Where and How to Look for Help Matters: Analysis of Support Exchange in Online Health Communities for People Living with HIV

School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA
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Received: 28 September 2018 / Revised: 16 October 2018 / Accepted: 18 October 2018 / Published: 20 October 2018
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Abstract

Research is scarce on how direct and indirect support seeking strategies affect support exchange in online health communities. Moreover, prior research has relied mostly on content analysis of forum posts at the post level. In order to generate a more fine-grained analysis of support exchange, we conducted content analysis at the utterance level, taking directness of support seeking, quality of provision, forum type, and seeker gender into account. Our analysis of four popular online support forums for people living with human immunodeficiency virus found that type of support sought and provided, support seeking strategy, and quality of emotional support provision differed in care provider/formal forums versus social/informal forums. Interestingly, indirect support seeking tended to elicit more supportive emotional responses than direct support seeking strategies in all forums; we account for this in terms of type of support sought. Practical implications for online support communities are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: support seeking; social support; HIV; HIV support; online health communities; online forums: stigmatized populations; computer-mediated communication; content analysis support seeking; social support; HIV; HIV support; online health communities; online forums: stigmatized populations; computer-mediated communication; content analysis
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Maestre, J.F.; Herring, S.C.; Min, A.; Connelly, C.L.; Shih, P.C. Where and How to Look for Help Matters: Analysis of Support Exchange in Online Health Communities for People Living with HIV. Information 2018, 9, 259.

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