Individuals with eating disorders and the use of online support groups as a form of social support

McCormack, Abby; Coulson, Neil S.
December 2009
Cyberpsychology;2009, Vol. 3 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The increase in Internet use in recent years has fostered the development of online support groups to help individuals cope with a range of conditions The aim of this study was to examine the nature and types of social support that was exchanged between participants of an online anorexia discussion forum. A deductive thematic analysis of 325 messages posted to a bulletin board suggested that one of the primary functions of the group was the communication of encouragement and esteem, and information support notably in terms of diagnosis, treatment and interaction with health care specialists. Considering the high rate of relapse among individuals with eating disorders it is imperative that some form of support is available when they leave treatment centres. Computer-mediated support groups provide a low cost, easily accessible self- help service to individuals with eating disorders and may provide an important venue through which information, advice and support can be offered and received.


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