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Int J Nurs Stud. 2013 Mar;50(3):335-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2012.09.014. Epub 2012 Oct 5.

Cyber nursing--health 'experts' approaches in the post-modern era of virtual performances: a nethnography study.

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1
The Red Cross University College, Stockholm, Sweden. henrik.eriksson@rkh.se

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The imperative to gather information online and to become an 'expert' by locating effective advice for oneself and others is a fairly new support phenomenon in relation to health advice. The creation of new positions for health 'experts' within the space of the Internet has been addressed as a cybernursing activity. A focused analysis of communication in health forums might give insight into the new roles that are available for health experts in cyberspace.

AIM:

The aim of this study is to describe approaches to being an 'expert' in lifestyle health choice forums on the Internet and to elaborate on the communicative performances that take place in the forums.

METHOD:

An archival and cross-sectional observational forum study was undertaken using principles for conducting ethnographic research online. 2640 pages of data from two health Internet forums were gathered and analyzed.

FINDINGS:

The results reveal three distinctive types of experts that emerge in the forums: (1) those that build their expertise by creating a presence in the forum based on lengthy and frequent postings, (2) those who build a presence through reciprocal exchanges with individual posters with questions or concerns, and (3) those who build expertise around a "life long learning" perspective based on logic and reason.

DISCUSSION:

The results suggest that experts not only co-exist in the forums, but more importantly they reinforce each others' positions. This effect is central; alongside one another, the posts of the three types of experts we identify constitute a whole for those seeking the forum for advice and support. Users are provided with strong opinions and advice, support and Socratic reasoning, and a problem-oriented approach. The Internet is now an integral part of everyday living, not least of which among those who seek and offer support in cyberspace. As such, cyber nursing has become an important activity to monitor, and formal health care professionals and nursing researchers must stay abreast of developments.

PMID:
23040763
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2012.09.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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