Online Support Groups Are Not Everyones Cup of Tea

Batenbury and Das out of VU University Amsterdam have an original paper in JMIR “Emotional Coping Differences Among Breast Cancer Patients From an Online Support Group: A Cross-Sectional Study”. The authors had 184 Dutch breast cancer patients complete a questionnaire examining activity in peer online support community. They wanted to determine if the effects of online support group participation is driven by patients’ ability to cope or not with their reflection on the disease. 

The conclusion: breast cancer patients individual coping style drove their participation in online communities. Those who coped less actively had a lower sense of psychological well-being then patients who were actively coping. 

A potential explanation for the negative relation between the intensity of online participation and breast cancer-related concerns among patients with a more avoidant coping style is that these patients may be less able to cope with the negative content on online forums; they may be overwhelmed by the sad and frightening stories from patients in the same conditio

This fits with my first time experience as a caregiver for Donna going online through a local organization. I signed up and went to the lung cancer group. I nearly lost my dinner. The stories and posting about the horrific nature of the disease and treatment left me cold and broken. Subsequently when I was working with a counselor I was told nearly word for word what is above. I’m pleased to see the data supporting the anecdotal reporting. 

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