Title: The role of an online peer-to-peer health community in addressing psychosocial concerns and social support in polycystic ovary syndrome

Authors: Carol Percy, Sarah Murray

Addresses: Psychology Department, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB, UK. ' Psychology Department, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB, UK

Abstract: This article reports the findings of a study which analysed messages posted on an online forum related to the common chronic endocrine condition polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The aim of the study was to identify the health-related psychosocial concerns of forum users, and the extent to which the forum met users| needs for information and social support. The data suggest that women who used the internet forum had a wider range of health-related concerns than those measured in closed-response questionnaires typically used in clinic settings. The forum was used to request and provide information and social support. Detailed examination of the exchange of messages on the forum suggested that users seeking information support were less likely to receive the type of support requested, than those seeking more socio-emotional forms of support. It is suggested that further research is needed to establish whether users| social support needs are fully met by the forum.

Keywords: polycystic ovary syndrome; PCOS; psychosocial concerns; health-related quality of life; social support; online health communities; women|s health; information needs; self-management; peer-to-peer; P2P; web-based communities; online communities; virtual communities; online forums; healthcare; female health; women; socio-emotional support.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2010.035838

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2010 Vol.6 No.4, pp.349 - 361

Published online: 05 Oct 2010 *

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