Role of empowerment and sense of community on online social health support group

Shwadhin Sharma (California State University Monterey Bay, Seaside, California, USA)
Anita Khadka (School of Nursing, Fresno State University, Fresno, California, USA)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Publication date: 7 February 2019



Drawing on the taxonomy of patient empowerment and a sense of community (SoC), the purpose of this paper is to analyze the factors that impact the intention of the individual to continue using online social health support community for their chronic disease management.


A survey design was used to collect the data from multiple online social health support groups related to chronic disease management. The survey yielded a total of 246 usable responses.


The primary findings from this study indicate that the informational support – not the nurturant support such as emotional, network, and esteem support – are the major types of support people are seeking from an online social health support community. This research also found that patient empowerment and SoC would positively impact their intention to continue using the online health community.

Research limitations/implications

This study utilized a survey design method may limit precision and realism. Also, there is the self-selection bias as the respondents self-selected themselves to take the survey.

Practical implications

The findings can help the community managers or webmasters to design strategies for the promotion and diffusion of online social health group among patient of chronic disease. Those strategies should focus on patient’s empowerment through action facilitating and social support and through creating a SoC.


An innovative research model integrates patient empowerment and a SoC to study patient’s chronic disease management through online social health groups to fill the existing research gap.



Shwadhin Sharma and Anita Khadka (2019) "Role of empowerment and sense of community on online social health support group", Information Technology & People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print

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