Communication with Online Social Support Groups for Individuals Facing Health Concerns: A Review of Theory and Research on Supportive Interactions and Their Implications Online for Health Outcomes

Kevin Wright

Abstract


This article provides a review of current theoretical and empirical literature regarding the communication of social support within online support groups/communities for individuals facing health concerns. Specifically, it focuses on key conceptual, theoretical, and empirical work that has been published within the communication discipline as well as work in other disciplines that has focused on communicative aspects of this phenomenon. Although several meta-analyses and literature reviews of online support groups for people coping with health concerns currently exist, few reviews have combined both theoretical and empirical work that highlights key areas of online support group communication processes and outcomes. Toward that end, the article focuses on four key areas of theory/empirical work related to communication within online support groups for people facing health concerns, the strengths and limitations of this body work, and suggestions for future theoretical and empirical work in this area.


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