Published Research Assesses Impact of Health Union’s Online Health Community Model
– Paper details how the company’s adaptive engagement model positively facilitates social support in online health communities –
PHILADELPHIA — July 7, 2020 — Research from Health Union that further validates the benefits of its online community model for people living with chronic health concerns has been published in the July 2020 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research. The paper, titled “Assessment of Adaptive Engagement and Support Model for People With Chronic Health Conditions in Online Health Communities: Combined Content Analysis” (DOI: 10.2196/17338), evaluates how social support is provided and the role of moderation in online health communities specifically developed in accordance with and managed by an adaptive engagement model created by Health Union.
The research used a mixed-methods Combined Content Analysis to analyze nearly 5,900 Facebook post comments from six of Health Union’s online health communities to understand how key aspects of the adaptive engagement model facilitate different types of social support. The comments were sampled from the Facebook pages of IrritableBowelSyndrome.net, LungCancer.net, Migraine.com, MultipleSclerosis.net, ProstateCancer.net and RheumatoidArthritis.net.
The analysis demonstrated that people with chronic health conditions want to engage online, using social media in particular, and find value in supporting and sharing their experiences with others living with the same health condition. Specifically, 58% of analyzed comments represented expressions of social support for others, demonstrated through information-sharing, expressions of empathy and encouragement to others. Active moderation of these communities helped to maintain a safe environment that presents balanced and medically accurate information, which is a common concern of social and peer support for health conditions.
“This research further solidifies what we have long known about the elements needed to make an online health community truly impactful,” said co-author Amrita Bhowmick, MPH, MBA, Health Union’s chief community officer and an adjunct assistant professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. “When used consistently and skillfully, social support, adaptive engagement and active moderation provide a dynamic community experience for individuals with chronic health concerns, ultimately promoting better physical and mental health”
In addition to Bhowmick, the paper’s authors included multiple current and former Health Union team members: Brian M. Green, MS; Ketki Gupte, MA; Katelyn Van Horn, MSW, MPH; and Sara Hayes, MPH. Megan Evans, MS, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, also served as an author.
Over the past 10 years, Health Union has launched 29 online health communities dedicated to helping people live better with specific chronic conditions. Health Union’s OHC model encourages people to take an active role in their health by providing content that aligns with their needs and interests while cultivating a safe environment where meaningful social relationships can thrive.
About Health Union
Since 2010, Health Union has encouraged social interactions that evolve into valuable online health conversations, helping people with chronic conditions find the information, connection, and validation they seek. The company creates condition-specific online communities – publishing original, daily content and continuously cultivating social conversation – to support, educate and connect millions of people with challenging, chronic health concerns. Today, the Health Union family of brands includes 29 online health communities, including LungCancer.net, ParkinsonsDisease.net, MultipleSclerosis.net and Migraine.com.