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A Sisterhood of Sorts

Bergeron Kinch, Stephanie LU (2011) SIMT05 20111
Master of Science in Global Studies
Graduate School
Department of Communication and Media
Abstract (Swedish)
This study shows how a group of women with infertility issues find friendship, emotional support, and information using the anonymous environment of one virtual community. Through interviews with 11 women and an analysis of online journals and forum postings, the case study looks at how women use the anonymous and non- temporal nature of the Internet to be empathetic and supportive, and further explores how that empathy helps women feel less isolated and ostracized. Online support groups fill a void that traditional face-to-face interaction and doctor-patient relationships can
not fulfill by providing women emotional and social support from their peers. This support is strengthened by the ability for women to choose how much or how... (More)
This study shows how a group of women with infertility issues find friendship, emotional support, and information using the anonymous environment of one virtual community. Through interviews with 11 women and an analysis of online journals and forum postings, the case study looks at how women use the anonymous and non- temporal nature of the Internet to be empathetic and supportive, and further explores how that empathy helps women feel less isolated and ostracized. Online support groups fill a void that traditional face-to-face interaction and doctor-patient relationships can
not fulfill by providing women emotional and social support from their peers. This support is strengthened by the ability for women to choose how much or how little they disclose about themselves, thus giving a feeling of anonymity. Using Lievrouw’s Social Shaping of Technology theory as a framework, it was found that women are shaping the technology they use to discuss infertility by creating text-friendly language and online methods of showing support. In shaping this technology to fit their needs, women adapt
the “strong-tie” social networking behavior usually reserved for family and friends to better understand strangers online. Disadvantages to the technology are its ever-changing makeup of users and the difficulty in finding the veracity of medical advice. Results from this study show healthcare providers that social media is a valuable tool in understanding the psychological effects of fertility treatments, with further research
made into how users deal with the changing population of users and how this technology is used after a person is able to become pregnant. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Bergeron Kinch, Stephanie LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Empathy in Virtual Health Communities
course
SIMT05 20111
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Social Media, Infertility, Virtual Health Communities, Social Support, Computer Mediated Communication, Comforting Communication, Social Shaping of Technology, Social Networking, Empathy
language
English
id
1974411
date added to LUP
2011-07-06 08:08:49
date last changed
2014-09-08 14:04:10
@misc{1974411,
  abstract     = {This study shows how a group of women with infertility issues find friendship, emotional support, and information using the anonymous environment of one virtual community. Through interviews with 11 women and an analysis of online journals and forum postings, the case study looks at how women use the anonymous and non- temporal nature of the Internet to be empathetic and supportive, and further explores how that empathy helps women feel less isolated and ostracized. Online support groups fill a void that traditional face-to-face interaction and doctor-patient relationships can 
not fulfill by providing women emotional and social support from their peers. This support is strengthened by the ability for women to choose how much or how little they disclose about themselves, thus giving a feeling of anonymity. Using Lievrouw’s Social Shaping of Technology theory as a framework, it was found that women are shaping the technology they use to discuss infertility by creating text-friendly language and online methods of showing support. In shaping this technology to fit their needs, women adapt 
the “strong-tie” social networking behavior usually reserved for family and friends to better understand strangers online. Disadvantages to the technology are its ever-changing makeup of users and the difficulty in finding the veracity of medical advice. Results from this study show healthcare providers that social media is a valuable tool in understanding the psychological effects of fertility treatments, with further research 
made into how users deal with the changing population of users and how this technology is used after a person is able to become pregnant.},
  author       = {Bergeron Kinch, Stephanie},
  keyword      = {Social Media,Infertility,Virtual Health Communities,Social Support,Computer Mediated Communication,Comforting Communication,Social Shaping of Technology,Social Networking,Empathy},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {A Sisterhood of Sorts},
  year         = {2011},
}