A sociotechnical mechanism for online support provision

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social support can significantly improve health outcomes for individuals living with disease, and online forums have emerged as an important vehicle for social support. Whereas research has focused on the delivery and use of social support, little is known about how these communities are sustained. We describe one sociotechnical mechanism that enables sustainable communities to provide social support to a large number of people. We focus upon thirteen disease-specific discussion forums hosted by the WebMD online health community. In these forums, small, densely connected cores of members who maintain strong relationships generate the majority of support for others. Through content analysis we find they provide informational support to a large number of more itinerant members, but provide one another with community support. Based on these observations, we describe a sociotechnical mechanism of online support that is distinct from nonsupport oriented communities, and has implications for the design of self-sustaining online support systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2016 - Proceedings, 34th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages3559-3571
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781450333627
DOIs
StatePublished - May 7 2016
Event34th Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2016 - San Jose, United States
Duration: May 7 2016May 12 2016

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Other

Other34th Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2016
CountryUnited States
CitySan Jose
Period5/7/165/12/16

Keywords

  • Online communities
  • Online social support
  • Social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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  • Cite this

    Introne, J., Semaan, B., & Goggins, S. (2016). A sociotechnical mechanism for online support provision. In CHI 2016 - Proceedings, 34th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3559-3571). (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858582