BackgroundAs individuals age, chronic health difficulties may disrupt physical and social well-being. Individuals can turn to online communities to interact with similar peers, which may help buffer negative effects resulting from health difficulties.
ObjectiveThis study investigated the reasons that older adults join a diabetes online community to better understand the specific resources that are being sought.
MethodsWe used semantic network analyses to categorize the reasons participants provided for joining a community during the sign-up process.
ResultsThe most frequent reasons for joining were to seek information about their health condition, to help with self-management of health difficulties, for feelings of informational and social support, and for having a community with whom to share. Women were more likely to go online for sharing and companionship as well as for information and social support reasons, whereas men were more likely to go online for general information and self-management reasons.
ConclusionsThis study shows the reasons older adults seek to join a diabetes online community: for increased information and support regarding chronic health difficulties. Practitioners may want to consider ways to promote access to online communities among their older patients as a source of health information and a resource to provide a sense of community.