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Marzo-abril de 2019, vol. 28, núm. 2
Información y comunicación biomédica

Do online support groups influence the well-being of patients with diabetes?

Noelia Herrero, Lluís Mas-Manchón, Frederic Guerrero-Solé

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Abstract: Diabetes is one of the most challenging long-term diseases (LTD) nowadays. Diabetes is associated with dietary restrictions, medical treatments and a strict life style, and has important emotional implications. The aim of this study is to analyze the impact of participating in online support groups (OSG) and participants’ emotional well-being, social support, self-esteem and motivation. An online survey was disseminated in online forums about diabetes, in Spanish (N = 344). Results show that participating in OSGs has a significant influence on the four variables analyzed. However, the direction of this influence depends on participants’ type of diabetes. Participating in OSG is associated with an increase in self-reported social support and motivation for type 2 patients with diabetes, while it is associated with a decrease of both variables for type 1 patients. No differences were observed for emotional well-being and self-esteem. These results have direct implications for both people with type 1 and 2 diabetes and medical professionals in managing online communications more effectively.

Keywords: Diabetes; Online forums; Media effects; Social influence; Emotional well-being; Self-esteem; Social support; Motivation.