Understanding the role of social media in online health: A global perspective on online social support

  • Roderick Lamar Lee Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg
  • Lynette M. Kvasny The Pennsylvania State University
Keywords: Social Support, Social Media, User Generated Content, Chronic Disease


Around the globe, people are increasingly using social media for the provision of online social support. Online social support may be especially relevant for parents who have children that are afflicted with rare chronic diseases such as MECP2 Duplication Syndrome. Despite increasing evidence that online social support enhances a person’s psychological well-being, there is little research that seeks to understand how and why various forms of social media facilitate social support. This study develops a theoretical framework from the existing psychosocial and media theories that describes the relationship between social media and social support. This paper concludes with implications for health information systems design.

Author Biographies

Roderick Lamar Lee, Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg
Roderick Lee received his Ph.D. in Information Sciences and Technology with a concentration in Management and Organization from The Pennsylvania State University. He joined the faculty of the School of Business Administration as an Assistant Professor of Information Systems in the Fall of 2008. His research and teaching interests are centered on information technology and groups
Lynette M. Kvasny, The Pennsylvania State University
Lynette Kvasny received her Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems from the Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University. Her research focuses on how and why historically underserved groups appropriate information and communication technologies (ICT). She has designed, implemented and assessed community computing projects in economically challenged neighborhoods in Atlanta, GA and West Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA. Her current research examines the performance of racial and ethnic identities in virtual communities, ICT education and workforce participation in the African Diaspora, and the influence of racial, class and gender identities on health information seeking and content creation.
How to Cite
Lee, R. L., & Kvasny, L. M. (2013). Understanding the role of social media in online health: A global perspective on online social support. First Monday, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v19i1.4048