"You Are By No Means Alone": A Netnographic Study of Self-Care Support in an Online Community for Older Adults

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Abstract

Online peer-to-peer communities provide environments in which people with similar health concerns can interact and exchange information that can support self-care of long-term conditions. However, current theories have not adequately accounted for how self-care support is enacted in online communities. We conducted an observational netnography to identify and analyze posts in a publicly accessible online community (discussion forum boards) designed for older people. A Straussian grounded theory approach was used to examine 659 posts in health-related message boards. Self-care support involved the construction of three interrelated identities: (1) the support seeking self, in which members described problems and requested information; (2) the empathizing self, in which they described similar experiences and offered support; and (3) the influencing self, in which they provided information or advice. Online communities appear to be an important source of peer support and information and may be a cost-effective approach to supplement standard care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1935-1951
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Health Research
Volume32
Issue number13
Early online date3 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Keywords

  • aged
  • chronic illness and disease
  • self-care
  • self-management
  • peer support
  • social media
  • online communities
  • netnography
  • grounded theory
  • online community

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