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Int J Nurs Stud. 2014 Nov;51(11):1524-37. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2014.06.009. Epub 2014 Jun 19.

Internet-based peer support for parents: a systematic integrative review.

Author information

1
Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Finland. Electronic address: hmniel@utu.fi.
2
Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Finland.
3
Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Finland; Turku University Hospital, Finland.
4
VAMK University of Applied Sciences, Vaasa, Finland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The Internet and social media provide various possibilities for online peer support. The aim of this review was to explore Internet-based peer-support interventions and their outcomes for parents.

DESIGN:

A systematic integrative review.

DATA SOURCES:

The systematic search was carried out in March 2014 in PubMed, Cinahl, PsycINFO and Cochrane databases.

REVIEW METHODS:

Two reviewers independently screened the titles (n=1793), abstracts and full texts to decide which articles should be chosen. The inclusion criteria were: (1) an Internet-based community as an intervention, or at least as a component of an intervention; (2) the participants in the Internet-based community had to be mothers and/or fathers or pregnant women; (3) the parents had to interact and communicate with each other through the Internet-based community. The data was analysed using content analysis. When analysing peer-support interventions only interventions developed by researchers were included and when analysing the outcomes for the parents, studies that focused on mothers, fathers or both parents were separated.

RESULTS:

In total, 38 publications met the inclusion criteria. Most of the studies focused on Internet-based peer support between mothers (n=16) or both parents (n=15) and seven focused on fathers. In 16 studies, the Internet-based interventions had been developed by researchers and 22 studies used already existing Internet peer-support groups, in which any person using the Internet could participate. For mothers, Internet-based peer support provided emotional support, information and membership in a social community. For fathers, it provided support for the transition to fatherhood, information and humorous communication. Mothers were more active users of Internet-based peer-support groups than fathers. In general, parents were satisfied with Internet-based peer support. The evidence of the effectiveness of Internet-based peer support was inconclusive but no harmful effects were reported in these reviewed studies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Internet-based peer support provided informational support for parents and was accessible despite geographical distance or time constraints. Internet-based peer support is a unique form of parental support, not replacing but supplementing support offered by professionals. Experimental studies in this area are needed.

KEYWORDS:

Internet; Parental support; Parents; Peer group; Peer support; Review; Social media

PMID:
24998788
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2014.06.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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