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Dissertation

The Use of Internet Support Groups, Perceived Social Support, and Quality of Life in Individuals with a Chronic Disease

14 May 2018

Abstract

Objective: This study examined the relationship between perceived social support and health-related quality of life (HRQOL), in a sample of adults who self-reported as having a chronic disease and who use in-person and/or online support resources. Method: 216 adults aged 18 and older who self-identified as having a chronic illness responded to an online survey assessing for HRQOL and perception of in-person and online social support. Survey participants were cultivated using snowball sampling methods through Facebook, Reddit, online social support groups, and word-of-mouth online solicitations. Results: For in-person social support scores, individuals who used both types of social support scored significantly higher HRQOL than those who used none. Individuals who used both types of social support scores significantly higher than those who used just one type. For online social support scores, people that used both types of social support scores higher than those who just used one type. On average, a one unit increase in in-person social support scores decreases role limitations due to mental health scores. Additionally, on average, a one unit increase in in-person social support resulted in a decrease in emotional well-being score. A one unit increase in in-person social support resulted in an increase in social functioning score. For every one unit increase in helping other score, on average increases social functioning. Additionally, for every one unit increase in helping others score resulted in an increase in general health. Conclusion: In person social support appears to be a significant predictor of HRQOL, although respondents using both online and in-person support had highest scores on HRQOL measures. Future directions in health care and chronic disease management would benefit from assessing patient social support access and creating both in-person and online disease-specific support groups.


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