University of Twente Student Theses


Socioemotional and task-oriented helping mechanisms in an online support group for Celiac Disease patients

Fuisting, Anna (2016) Socioemotional and task-oriented helping mechanisms in an online support group for Celiac Disease patients.

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Abstract:Online support groups (OSGs) are gaining more influence in the self-therapy of diseases and distresses. Mainly, two kinds of helping mechanisms are to be found in OSGs: socioemotional and task-oriented helping mechanisms. Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder in which it is of great importance for the patients to follow a gluten-free diet (GFD), which is difficult. Therefore, participation in an OSG could be meaningful for CD patients. But how do CD patients who are active on Facebook participate in an OSG and is there a difference between the participation on workdays and weekends? The question was answered by analyzing 930 messages of 12 days in the German Facebook-group “Zöliakie Austausch”. For the analysis, the coding scheme by Finn (1999) served as a basis, because it includes socioemotional and task-oriented codes, which he used to analyze an OSG for people with disabilities. The members of “Zöliakie Austausch” participate by writing socioemotional and task-oriented messages, of which the task-oriented messages are written more frequently. In their messages, the group members provide and ask information about gluten-free products, places to go to, recipes and medical topics. But the group members also share personal stories and express feelings. In addition, differences were found between participation on workdays and weekends: more negative feelings and seeking support is expressed on workdays and more positive feelings on the weekend. Especially the aspect that task-oriented messages were written more frequently, underlines that there are deficiencies in the health-care system regarding the information that patients get about this disease. In addition, the group seems to be a place for the members to share their own stories and feelings because they know that they are among like-minded. The difference between participation on workdays and weekends shows that real life has an influence on OSG-usage as well as the other way round. These results can serve as a basis for many further research opportunities, for example to analyze the effect of participation on the quality of life of the members or the adherence to the GFD. If positive effects of participating will be proven, such a group could help every CD patient.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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