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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Beyond an OSN Post: Looking at Emotional Valence and Request of Support/Information


Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that does not have a cure. Therefore, it is important for patients to receive support, which would allow them to ask questions and express their feelings. This study examined online social networks for patients with rheumatoid arthritis to better understand the emotional valence of their initial posts and whether there was an association between posts with negative emotional valence and requesting support/information. We hypothesized that the majority (more than 50%) of the emotional valence of initial posts would be negative, and that there would be an association between negative emotional valence and support/information. Nine hundred eighty-six initial posts from a rheumatoid arthritis online social network via Reddit were coded as either positive, negative, neutral, or mixed. In addition, the initial posts were coded as either requesting support/information, offering support/information, neither requesting nor offering support/information, or both requesting and offering support/information. Negative was the most common emotional valence in the initial posts followed by mixed, neutral, and positive. There was also an association between initial posts that had a negative emotional valence and requested support/information, and initial posts that had a negative emotional valence but did not request support/information. As a result, the implications of this study indicate the need for additional information and support to be provided to patients with rheumatoid arthritis, so they can have a better experience and an easier way to cope with their illness.

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