The role of communication affordances in post-traumatic stress disorder facebook and whatsapp support groups

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

(1) Background: Digital health research has indicated that people with stigmatized health problems are drawn to online support groups (OSGs) because these groups help them to manage such conditions. However, little is known about how media affordances—interactions between the technology and the user—reconfigure the ways in which stigmatized individuals use OSGs and interact with others like themselves. (2) Method: The current study applied an affordance framework to evaluate how Facebook and WhatsApp support groups can help military veterans and their partners cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was based on interviews with 34 PTSD-OSG members in Israel. (3) Findings: This research identified five affordances that members appraised as enhancing their coping efforts in the digital world: visibility, availability, multimediality, surveillance, and synchronicity. (4) Conclusions: This study reveals the connection between a specific stigmatized mental health disorder (i.e., PTSD) and perceptions of communication technologies (i.e., affordances), and specifies the uses of technologies for coping with this mental health disorder. More-over, this study may inform digital intervention designers about which communication affordances can potentially lead to better health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4576
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2021

Keywords

  • Affordances
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Social media
  • Social support
  • Stigma

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