Interesting study of online support group for food allergies

Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2007 - 11:21am
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Coping with Food Allergy: Exploring the Role of the Online Support Group
NEIL S. COULSON, Ph.D.1 and REBECCA C. KNIBB, Ph.D.2

ABSTRACT
The aims of this study were to explore the reasons for participation in an online support group for individuals affected by food allergy, its perceived advantages and disadvantages as well as impact on the relationship with healthcare providers. A total of 32 members of the Food Allergy Survivors Together (F.A.S.T.) online support group completed an online structured
interview and responses were analysed using thematic analysis. Group members identified
a range of benefits, including accessibility, receipt of social support as well as guidance
on coping strategies. The only disadvantages identified revolved around the accuracy and
trust in information exchanged via the group bulletin board. Group participation did appear
to impact on relationships with healthcare providers with several members reporting greater
empowerment through decision-making, though in contrast some experienced difficulties in
discussing their online support experiences and information obtained with their healthcare
providers.
145
CYBERPSYCHOLOGY & BEHAVIOR
Volume 10, Number 1, 2007

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