Patients' learning in cyberspace: a thematic analysis of patient-patient discussions in a chronic illness Facebook page

Gemma-Dee Stevens, Victoria L O'Donnell, Lynn Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Online support groups play an increasingly important role in patients' lived experience of chronic illness. The objective of this study was to explore how learning takes place from patients' interactions in an online chronic illness support group. Methods: Qualitative data consisted of 1478 messages posted to a publicly accessible non-illness specific Facebook support page. Data was analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Findings: Four themes were identified from the analysis. This paper presents two themes, information sharing and dis(trust). Employing Wenger's Communities of Practice theoretical framework (Wenger, 1998), themes are discussed in terms of learning, participation in practices and identity. Conclusion: Online support groups can be pivotal to learning in illness. Patients' online information sharing provides them with opportunities for informal learning about their condition to take place. These online interactions lead to patients developing trust for one another and distrust for the medical care system.
LanguageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Web-Based Communities
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Jun 2018

Fingerprint

facebook
virtual reality
Health care
chronic illness
learning
informal learning
Group
interaction
qualitative method
medical care
illness
participation
community
experience

Keywords

  • patient interactions
  • illness community
  • chronic illness
  • online support groups
  • communities of practice
  • learning
  • social networks
  • social media

Cite this

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abstract = "Objective: Online support groups play an increasingly important role in patients' lived experience of chronic illness. The objective of this study was to explore how learning takes place from patients' interactions in an online chronic illness support group. Methods: Qualitative data consisted of 1478 messages posted to a publicly accessible non-illness specific Facebook support page. Data was analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Findings: Four themes were identified from the analysis. This paper presents two themes, information sharing and dis(trust). Employing Wenger's Communities of Practice theoretical framework (Wenger, 1998), themes are discussed in terms of learning, participation in practices and identity. Conclusion: Online support groups can be pivotal to learning in illness. Patients' online information sharing provides them with opportunities for informal learning about their condition to take place. These online interactions lead to patients developing trust for one another and distrust for the medical care system.",
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AB - Objective: Online support groups play an increasingly important role in patients' lived experience of chronic illness. The objective of this study was to explore how learning takes place from patients' interactions in an online chronic illness support group. Methods: Qualitative data consisted of 1478 messages posted to a publicly accessible non-illness specific Facebook support page. Data was analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Findings: Four themes were identified from the analysis. This paper presents two themes, information sharing and dis(trust). Employing Wenger's Communities of Practice theoretical framework (Wenger, 1998), themes are discussed in terms of learning, participation in practices and identity. Conclusion: Online support groups can be pivotal to learning in illness. Patients' online information sharing provides them with opportunities for informal learning about their condition to take place. These online interactions lead to patients developing trust for one another and distrust for the medical care system.

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