Parents Managing Clubfoot: A Content Analysis of Internet-based Social Support Behaviors with a Focus on Uncertainty Management and Health Communication

By Florin Oprescu, Shelly Campo, John Lowe, Julie Andsager and Jose A. Morcuende.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Using established categories of social support and the Uncertainty Management Theory, this interdisciplinary study situated at the intersection of social science, medicine, information technology and health communication explored the types of social support exchanged by caregivers in a virtual online support community for parents of children with clubfoot. A systematic content analysis of 775 messages indicated that the online environment allows participants to receive and provide a wide range of social support, particularly informational, emotional and esteem support. Results reveal what social support behaviors members of the online support community (OSC) exhibit as a result of requests from their peers, thus identifying what types of health communication may be effective in such settings. Furthermore, OSCs provide a great opportunity for scholars and practitioners to learn about the experiences of caregivers of children with health conditions and explore where gaps in health communication may exist. It is suggested that online support communities are key channels for future health research, communication and interdisciplinary practice.

Keywords: Uncertainty Management Theory, Online Social Support, Caregivers, Birth Defects, Clubfoot, Information Technology, Online Support Communities, Health Communication

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.83-101. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 416.714KB).

Dr Florin Oprescu

Lecturer in Health Promotion, School of Health and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, QLD, Australia

Dr. Florin Oprescu is a health promotion and communication specialist. He works on initiatives including health promotion education, health communication, injury prevention, and translation of scientific findings into practical and accessible public health content, especially for at risk populations and limited resource settings.

Shelly Campo

University of Iowa, USA

John Lowe

University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Julie Andsager

University of Iowa, Iowa, USA

Jose A. Morcuende

University of Iowa, Iowa, USA