Coping with food allergy: Exploring the role of the online support group

Neil S. Coulson*, Rebecca C. Knibb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The aims of this study were to explore the reasons for participation in an online support group for individuals affected by food allergy, its perceived advantages and disadvantages as well as impact on the relationship with healthcare providers. A total of 32 members of the Food Allergy Survivors Together (F.A.S.T.) online support group completed an online structured interview and responses were analysed using thematic analysis. Group members identified a range of benefits, including accessibility, receipt of social support as well as guidance on coping strategies. The only disadvantages identified revolved around the accuracy and trust in information exchanged via the group bulletin board. Group participation did appear to impact on relationships with healthcare providers with several members reporting greater empowerment through decision-making, though in contrast some experienced difficulties in discussing their online support experiences and information obtained with their healthcare providers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-148
Number of pages4
JournalCyberpsychology and Behavior
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2007

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