How an Online Health Support Community Responded to the COVID-19 Crisis

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2022-01-04
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Knittel, Megan
Wash, Rick
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The scope and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges for people seeking health information online. To understand how an existing online community of people living with a chronic health condition navigate meeting their existing health goals alongside the challenges and tensions resulting from COVID-19, we performed a qualitative content analysis of six weeks of discussion in the \rinfertility online community. We found that community members collaborated and debated to make dynamic structural and normative changes to their community in accordance with the changing impacts of COVID-19 on their experiences. Additionally, we found that community members information-seeking goals were centered around timelines for their own treatment plans and goals, with the scope of these timelines shifting based on their current state of knowledge of COVID-19. Implications of these findings for supporting health online communities broadly are discussed.
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Digital-Enabled Human-Information Interaction, health, infertility, information-seeking, online communities, sense-making
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10 pages
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Proceedings of the 55th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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