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Public Health 2.0: How Web 2.0 Sites Are Used by Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Swayze, Daniel Roger (2010) Public Health 2.0: How Web 2.0 Sites Are Used by Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Objective: Given the dramatic increase of new interactive features on the Internet known as Web 2.0 sites, the objective of this study was to determine how features such as member profiles, personal blogs and online social networks were used in virtual communities related to type 2 diabetes and to describe the potential differences between the social ecology model of these virtual communities and traditional physical communities.Methods: All original posts and replies in two diabetes discussion forums in web 2.0 enabled virtual communities were recorded for ninety days. Utilization of these features and content from publicly available components of profile pages were recorded from a purposive sample of 60 members. Content was analyzed using qualitative coding techniques. Utilization of other Web 2.0 features was recorded to determine frequency of use among sampled members.Results: 272 original posts and 3605 replies were generated by the participants in the discussion threads. Discussion forum analysis revealed that food, medication and blood glucose levels were major themes for original posts. Replies usually included the empathic and personal experiences of other members. Group guidance emerged from the cumulative responses provided by the community and provided the individual with a sense of the normalized behaviors of the community. Analysis of the utilization of various Web 2.0 features revealed that those who withheld gender information used the features less often than those identifying with a gender. Utilization also appeared to be dependent on the design attributes of the website. Analysis of 204 personal blog entries revealed the daily struggles of the members and rarely discussed diabetes. Replies to personal blogs were more likely to include religious guidance and expressions of empathy and love. Strong social ties were evident between individual blog entries and those providing the replies.Discussion and Public Health Significance: Discussion forums provided members with the ability to gather disease specific information from a large network of individuals with salient experiences. Personal blogs and other features facilitated the formation of strong social ties to develop. The combination of these features online provides a unique opportunity for public health practitioners to develop comprehensive and multifaceted interventions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Swayze, Daniel
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMarx, Johnjmarx@pitt.eduJMARX
Committee MemberRicci, Edmund Memricci@pitt.eduEMRICCI
Committee MemberCluss,
Committee MemberDocumet, Patriciapdocumet@pitt.eduPDOCUMET
Date: 27 January 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 23 November 2009
Approval Date: 27 January 2010
Submission Date: 7 November 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: DrPH - Doctor of Public Health
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Support; Theory of Online Social Support; Web 2.0; Diabetes; Internet
Other ID:, etd-11072009-193820
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:04
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:51


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