COMMUNITY STRUCTURE OF A MENTAL HEALTH INTERNET SUPPORT GROUP MODULARITY IN USER THREAD PARTICIPATION

Date

2016

Authors

Carron-Arthur, Brad
Reynolds, Julia
Bennett (previously Brittliffe), Kylie
Bennett, Anthony
Cunningham, John
Griffiths, Kathleen

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

JMIR Publications Inc

Abstract

Background: Little is known about the community structure of mental health Internet support groups, quantitatively. A greater understanding of the factors, which lead to user interaction, is needed to explain the design information of these services and future research concerning their utility. Objective: A study was conducted to determine the characteristics of users associated with the subgroup community structure of an Internet support group for mental health issues. Methods: A social network analysis of the Internet support group BlueBoard (blueboard.anu.edu.au) was performed to determine the modularity of the community using the Louvain method. Demographic characteristics age, gender, residential location, type of user (consumer, carer, or other), registration date, and posting frequency in subforums (depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, carers, general (eg, “chit chat”), and suggestions box) of the BlueBoard users were assessed as potential predictors of the resulting subgroup structure. Results: The analysis of modularity identified five main subgroups in the BlueBoard community. Registration date was found to be the largest contributor to the modularity outcome as observed by multinomial logistic regression. The addition of this variable to the final model containing all other factors improved its classification accuracy by 46.3%, that is, from 37.9% to 84.2%. Further investigation of this variable revealed that the most active and central users registered significantly earlier than the median registration time in each group. Conclusions: The five subgroups resembled five generations of BlueBoard in distinct eras that transcended discussion about different mental health issues. This finding may be due to the activity of highly engaged and central users who communicate with many other users. Future research should seek to determine the generalizability of this finding and investigate the role that highly active and central users may play in the formation of this phenomenon.

Description

Keywords

Citation

Source

JMIR Mental Health

Type

Journal article

Book Title

Entity type

Access Statement

Open Access

License Rights

DOI

10.2196/mental.4961

Restricted until