Friend or foe? An exploratory study of Australian parents' use of asynchronous discussion boards in childhood obesity

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Collegian, 2014, 21 (2), pp. 151 - 158
Issue Date:
2014-01-01
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Background: The use of Internet and social media is increasing in every area of life. Parents are increasingly using online mediums to seek information about their children's health. Therefore, this is becoming an increasingly important topic area for health professionals to acknowledge. Developing an understanding about the dissemination of child health information through these online mediums will assist health professional to continue to engage and support parents to seek and share accurate and safe child health information. Aim: To explore parents' use of asynchronous online discussion boards for child health information seeking, advice and social support. Method: A qualitative descriptive approach using an a priori template analysis was used to explore 34 discussions threads sampled from two Australian based online parenting discussion forums. To contain the scope of this study the threads chosen focused on childhood obesity in the Australian context. Results: Four major themes related to parents' use of asynchronous online discussion boards were found. These were seeking advice, sharing advice, social support and making judgement. This final theme of making judgements included parents' perceptions of health professionals' advice. Conclusion: Asynchronous online discussion boards are online mediums being utilised for seeking and sharing child health related information and support between parents. The notion that these online communities are usually supportive and provide accurate health information is challenged by the results of this study. This study found the forum environment can provide inaccurate information and in some instances can be judgemental and foster defensive attitudes. © 2014 Australian College of Nursing Ltd.
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