TitleExploring healthcare experiences among online interactive weight loss forum users
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsFaith, J, Thorburn, S, Sinky, TH
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Pagination326 - 333
Date Published04/2016

Internet use for health information is increasingly popular, especially among individuals who are embarrassed or feel stigmatized by personal health conditions such as obesity. Little is known about how healthcare experiences might be linked to using online interactive weight loss forums. We used qualitative methods to analyze forum users' discussions in three high traffic weight loss forums in order to explore characteristics of healthcare experiences (including patient-provider communication) and their influence on health information-seeking. We identified five major themes related to forum users' healthcare experiences that influenced where, when, and from whom health information was sought: (1) access to (and time spent with) providers; (2) providers not adequately managing weight-related shame and emotion; (3) lack of clarity of health information from providers; (4) lack of trust of health information from providers; and (5) rapport and personal relationships with providers. We conclude with recommendations and implications for future research and practice.