Communicating Social Support in Computer-mediated Contexts: A Meta-analytic Review of Content Analyses Examining Support Messages Shared Online among Individuals Coping with Illness

Stephen A Rains, Emily B. Peterson, Kevin B. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research on social support during the past two decades has been marked by a growth in scholarship examining supportive communication in computer-mediated contexts among individuals coping with illness. In an effort to summarize and advance this body of research, a meta-analytic review of content analyses was conducted. Across the 41 content analyses examining social support messages shared in health-related contexts online, informational and emotional support messages were most prevalent. Additionally, the prevalence of particular types of support messages varied based on several stressor dimensions relevant to illness. Nurturant forms of support were more common among content analyses examining health conditions likely to threaten personal relationships as well as among content analyses focusing on health conditions with a greater potential for loss in the form of death. Action-facilitating types of support were more common among content analyses examining more chronic conditions. The findings from this project offer insights about the nuanced ways in which computer-mediated communication is used as a resource for coping with illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-430
Number of pages28
JournalCommunication Monographs
Volume82
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015

Keywords

  • Computer-mediated Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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