Support is just a mouse click away: Health-related Internet Forums
Keywords:Internet forums, computer-mediated communication, illness, review
The use of online discussion forums has become popular among people with health problems. Online forums' users exchange and share personal experiences and feelings with strangers. The computer-mediated communication has special features which attract a wide variety of individuals suffering from health conditions and/or their caregivers. In addition to the 24 hour availability and the absence of barriers imposed by geographic location, research suggests special characteristics of online discussion groups such as: a better way for people to express themselves than in face to face encounters, access to a wide variety of health information, a possibility to reveal personal and private information anonymously or the therapeutic effects of writing about health problems. Although there is some scientific evidence which suggests the positive effects of internet discussion groups participation on users' well-being, more controlled studies are needed.