Posted in Abstract, Patient Communities

Online Support Group for People Living with Depression (Abstract)

An increasing number of patients turn to the Internet to seek information and support. Online support groups, in particular, have shown a strong potential to foster supportive and resourceful environments for patients without restrictions of time, space, and stigma.

Research has found that users of those groups exchange various types of support, such as informational support, emotional support, and social companionship. However, due to the scarcity of research, many other aspects of depression online support groups remain inconclusive. For example, knowledge gaps exist in the areas of user characteristics, patterns of use, and relationship between the two. In particular, little is known about how user characteristics, such as gender, age, illness severity and treatment history, affect the way they use depression online support groups. For instance, severely depressed users may request emotional support more often than less depressed users.

Users with less depressive symptoms, on the other hand, may request informational support and social companionship more often than severely depressed users. Users of younger age may receive support more often than they to others, while older users may give support more often than they receive. But those hypotheses are not yet tested.

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