The purpose of this paper is to explore the dynamics of online health care communities and the impact of two-way online social support on customers’ well-being and patients’ quality of life, at different social exclusion levels.
An online survey in China’s Anti-Hepatitis B Online Community includes 326 respondents. A combined hierarchical regression analysis and structural equation model test the hypotheses.
Both receiving and giving online social support, as reciprocal altruism behaviors, enhance patients’ well-being. Receiving online social support influences psychological well-being most; giving has the largest impact on existential domains. Social exclusion boosts the benefits of giving online social support but attenuates the benefits of receiving it.
This research focusses on the effects of online social support among socially excluded patients. Extensions could rely on objective instead of subjective measures and alternative methodologies to test the underlying processes. Additional insights could derive from a bidirectional perspective.
Medical treatment institutions should leverage customer resources; health care providers should prioritize patients who feel socially excluded as effective online support providers. Health care community administrators can use several means to convince patients to contribute to communities.
Social support in online health care communities is a collaborative service that uses customers as service resources. This study explains the collaborative service and how customers feel about their bidirectional roles. It also extends reciprocal altruism research to a health information technology realm by systematically exploring how giving, vs receiving, online social support affects customers’ well-being.
Funding: the authors gratefully acknowledge financial support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 71402009, 71572006, 71232008), Beijing Higher Education Young Elite Teacher Project (Grant No. YETP0801), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (Research on Service Transformation and Innovation of Service System under the Complex Networks Background).
The authors thank the Editors, Rodoula H. Tsiotsou and Jochen Wirtz, and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.
Zheng, Q., Yao, T. and Fan, X. (2016), "Improving customer well-being through two-way online social support", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 179-202. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTP-09-2014-0188Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited