To read this content please select one of the options below:

Peer‐to‐peer online communities for people with chronic diseases: a conceptual framework

Rosemary Stockdale (Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Systems and Information Technology

ISSN: 1328-7265

Article publication date: 23 May 2008




This paper aims to examine peer‐to‐peer online communities for people with chronic diseases in order to present a conceptual framework that identifies the needs of members. This framework aims to improve understanding of the role of these communities in the enhancement of people's self‐management of chronic disease care.


A conceptual framework is drawn from the literature and tested against three illustrative case studies using an ethnographic approach. Taking an objective perspective, the data were examined against the proposed framework. The iterative cycle of qualitative analysis supported reflection through the ongoing observation of the case communities over several months.


The research underpins identification of members' needs as presented in the framework. It finds that the constructs of the shared space provide a context for the identified needs of members which are revised to reflect the findings. Social needs are broadened to include the powerful influences of communication through self‐expression, spiritual support and advocacy. Hedonic needs are found to play a significant role in continued participation.

Practical implications

Improved management of chronic disease care benefits both the patient and a range of stakeholders concerned with delivery of care services. Greater recognition of the identified needs of online community members supports the capability to improve the effectiveness of healthcare delivery.


This research provides a framework for enhancing the ability of online communities to empower patients. It identifies specific needs of members and presents a conceptual framework to facilitate continuing research in this significant area.



Stockdale, R. (2008), "Peer‐to‐peer online communities for people with chronic diseases: a conceptual framework", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 39-55.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles