Title: An analysis of a closed COPD online health community: identifying information needs and credibility of sources

Authors: LeAnn Boyce; Gayle Prybutok

Addresses: Department of Information Science, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA ' Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA

Abstract: Online health communities (OHCs) have witnessed incredible growth over the past few years. Studies have explored communities related to cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. However, few studies, have examined online communities focused on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This study investigates COPD360social.com, an online forum for COPD patients, to answer the following research questions: what health information do forum members need; what health information sources do they prefer, and how credible is the information exchanged on the forum? We found that most of the participants' reasons for posting on this site were to look for emotional support. This study indicates that COPD patients have health information needs and a monitored social health online community that is available to patients 24/7 answers questions that arise at the time of need.

Keywords: online health communities; OHCs; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD; informational support; emotional support; online health information sources; information needs; online socialisation; health information.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEH.2019.108601

International Journal of Electronic Healthcare, 2019 Vol.11 No.1, pp.81 - 100

Accepted: 24 Apr 2020
Published online: 20 Jul 2020 *

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