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Title Differences in intrapersonal and interactional empowerment between lurkers and posters in health-related online support communities
Source Computers in Human Behaviour, 34, pp. 39-48
Year 2014
Database ScienceDirect
Access date 18.07.2014

Participation in health-related online support communities plays an important role in the psychological empowerment of people who are faced with health problems. Research has suggested that important differences exist in terms of psychological empowerment depending on the form and intensity of participation in such domains by showing that users who contribute to health-related online support communities by posting messages (posters) generally experience greater benefits in terms of intrapersonal empowerment, compared to participants who only read messages (lurkers). However, as yet, very little is known about how the often-neglected interactional aspect of psychological empowerment is associated with participation in these online domains. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore how different forms and intensity of participation in health-related online support communities are associated with both dimensions of psychological empowerment. Drawing on a nonprobability sample of 616 participants in two health-related online support communities, the analysis of the data, obtained with an online questionnaire, revealed that posters scored significantly higher in degree of interactional empowerment than lurkers, whereas no difference was observed in terms of intrapersonal empowerment. In addition, high posting frequency was significantly associated with a high level of interactional empowerment but not intrapersonal empowerment. The study suggests that to better understand the empowering potential of participation for users of health-related online support communities, it is important to distinguish not only between various forms of participation but also between different aspects of psychological empowerment.

Year of publication2014
Bibliographic typeJournal article
Full text availabilityAvailable on request