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Online Support Groups

  • By: Lindsey DiTirro, Kelly Vibber & Jeong-Nam Kim
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Online support groups have existed in a variety of forms since people began using the Internet. The Well, an online community that formed in the initial stages of the Internet, is perhaps one of the earliest examples of these groups. People would gather there for numerous reasons, but among them were those seeking advice and support about a variety of topics from treating illness to repairing cars. Today, online support groups exist in various platforms such as organization-based Web sites, chat rooms, and privately hosted Web sites. These groups bring together individuals who are experiencing or have experienced similar issues. Online support groups allow individuals to attempt to meet both information and emotional support needs through interactions with others who have a connection to their ...

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