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The Research: Power of an Online Community

Online Support: Proven Benefits

The digital age has provided new and powerful ways to build relationships, find information, and receive support. Online communities provide the opportunity for like-minded individuals to share experiences and provide others with empathy. Through shared experiences, these social groups organically develop support communities.

Power of Community Forums

Private community forums are scientifically proven to increase the success rates of their clients.  The forums are professionally monitored and focus on positive initiatives. Supportive, empathetic relationships develop and provide encouragement for members of the community.

The following research studies show online communities and forums play a vital role in client care and recovery. The research emphasizes the importance of empathy and effective communication within these platforms.

According to Scientific Research

The studies highlight the significance of clients actively seeking information, and engaging in discussions within online communities leads to better compliance and a more informed community. The research also points to the critical role of professional monitors that facilitate opportunities for knowledge exchange and support. 

The studies found in forums, having emotional support and the ensuing expressions of gratitude establish a positive cycle of support and appreciation. This amalgamation of empathy, information exchange, and emotional support within digital health communities is highly effective for long-term client success.

Scientific Research — 1

Impact of patient information behaviours in online health communities on patient compliance and the mediating role of patients’ perceived empathy.

Source

Patient education and counseling [Patient Educ Couns] 2021 Jan; Vol. 104 (1), pp. 186-193. Date of Electronic Publication: 2020 Jul 06.

Abstract

Objective: Patient health information seeking and physician-patient communication in OHCs proved to have impacts on patient compliance, but related studies from psychological perspectives are limited. This study aims to investigate the impact of patient health information seeking and physician-patient communication in OHCs on patient compliance.

Methods: This study established a research model and proposed six hypotheses. An anonymous investigation was conducted using Chinese OHCs. Confirmatory factor analysis, partial least squares, and structural equation modelling were used to test the hypotheses.

Results: We received 371 responses, and 316 of them were valid. Patient health information seeking and physician-patient communication frequency in OHCs had positive impacts on patients’ perceived affective and cognitive empathies, which positively impacted patient compliance.

Conclusions: Patient compliance can be improved by patient health information seeking and physician-patient communication in OHCs and affective and cognitive empathies. Patients’ perceived affective empathy is the preferred perspective to improve patient compliance.

Practice Implications: Physicians should encourage patients to seek health information and communicate with them through OHCs, be concerned about patients’ experiences, feelings, and attitudes, understand patients’ demands and mental states, and show their patients that they can feel patients’ pain. Increasing physician-patient communication frequency in OHCs can help improve patient compliance.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Scientific Research — 2

Seeking or contributing? Evidence of knowledge sharing behaviours in promoting patients’ perceived value of online health communities.

Source

Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy [Health Expect] 2020 Dec; Vol. 23 (6), pp. 16141626.

Background

Health knowledge, as an important resource of online health communities (OHCs), attracts users to engage in OHCs and improve the traffics within OHCs, thereby promoting the development of OHCs. Seeking and contributing health knowledge are basic activities in OHCs and are helpful for users to solve their health-related problems, improve their health conditions and thus influence their evaluation of OHCs (ie perceived value of OHCs). However, how do patients’ health knowledge seeking and health knowledge contributing behaviours together with other factors influence their perceived value of OHCs? We still have little knowledge.

Primary Objective

In order to address the above gap, we root the current study in social cognitive theory and prior related literature on health knowledge sharing in OHCs and patients’ perceived value. We treat health knowledge seeking and health knowledge contributing behaviours as behavioural factors and structural social capital as an environmental factor and explore their impacts on patients’ perceived value of OHCs.

Results

The empirical results indicate that health knowledge seeking and health knowledge contributing have positive impacts on patients’ perceived value of OHCs. The impact of health knowledge seeking on patients’ perceived value of OHCs is greater than the impact of health knowledge contributing. In addition, structural social capital moderates the effects of health knowledge seeking and health knowledge contributing on patients’ perceived value of OHCs. It weakens the effect of health knowledge seeking but enhances the effect of health knowledge contributing on patients’ perceived value of OHCs..

Conclusion

These findings contribute to the literature on patients’ perceived value of OHCs and on the role of structural social capital in OHCs. For OHC managers, they should provide their users more opportunities to seek or contribute health knowledge in their communities.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Scientific Research — 3

When support is needed: Social support solicitation and provision in an online alcohol use disorder forum.

Source

Digital health [Digit Health] 2017 May 22; Vol. 3, pp. 2055207617704274. Date of Electronic Publication: 2017 May 22.

Background

Obtaining adequate social support presents a challenge for many in addiction recovery. Increasingly, individuals in recovery use online forums to exchange support with peers, yet it is unclear which help-seeking strategies most effectively recruit peer support, and which forms of support are most valued by recipients.

Results

Emotional disclosures, whether positive or negative, received the highest volume of supportive replies. Emotional support was the most common response to solicitations overall, and was disproportionately offered after recipients disclosed positive emotions. Informational support was disproportionately offered after recipients disclosed negative emotions or recovery problems, or explicitly requested help. Regardless of their solicitation style, recipients expressed more gratitude after receiving emotional support than other support types.

Conclusion

Providing emotional support was common in an online AUD forum, and precipitated expressing gratitude from recipients to support providers. The results may be helpful in guiding participants to more effectively obtain and provide recovery support in online forums.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Scientific Research — 4

Online support groups for Parkinson’s patients: a pilot study of effectiveness.

Source

Social work in health care [Soc Work Health Care] 2005; Vol. 42 (2), pp. 23-38.

Abstract

(A) Will PD patients participate in online, professionally led support groups? (B) What are their demographics characteristics and PD severity? (C) Are such groups beneficial? (D) Should patients be grouped for stage of disease? Depression and quality of life were assessed. Sixty-six people were assigned to a 20-week, professionally facilitated online support group. Participants were assigned to one of 2 group types based on patient similarity: homogeneous and heterogeneous. PD patients appear to readily enroll in online groups. Compared to PD patients in traditional support groups, the online were younger, less depressed and had higher quality of life. Dropouts (39%) were high. Overall, patients showed improved quality of life; no overall changes were observed in depression. Participants in the homogenous groups reported a significant decrease in depression.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.