Online depression communities give people additional opportunities to share their experiences and exchange social support to care for themselves in fighting against depression. We aimed to explore what drives patients to share in online depression communities. We used three dimensions of social capital (structural, relational, and cognitive) to explain their sharing behaviors. We further proposed that five factors (social interaction ties, a sense of shared identity, trust, expertise, and a sense of shared values) will have significant, positive effects on sharing behaviors and that there are differences among patients who have spent different lengths of time participating in online depression communities. We then chose a popular online depression community in China as our data source and obtained a dataset consisting of 31,440 posts from 197 members. Then, we employed panel data regression analyses to test all six hypotheses. The results revealed that all five factors had significant, positive effects (p
< 0.01) on patients’ sharing behaviors, and the effects were significantly different across groups. Our empirical results help designers and managers of online depression communities take specific measures to facilitate community members’ access to social capital resources. Meanwhile, our results have implications for existing health management and e-health literature.
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