Background: Members of the HIV/AIDS community are known to use web-based tools to support learning about treatment issues. Initial research indicated components such as message forums or web-based documentation were effectively used by persons with HIV/AIDS. Video has also shown promise as a technology to aid consumer health education. However, no research has been published thus far investigating the impact of web-based environments combining these components in an educational workshop format.
Methods: In this qualitative study HIV/AIDS community members provided feedback on an integrated web-based consumer health education environment. Participants were recruited through organizations that serve the HIV/AIDS community located in Toronto, Canada. Demographics, data on Internet use, including messages exchanged in the study environment were collected. A group interview provided feedback on usability of the study environment, preferences for information formats, use of the message forum, and other sources for learning about treatment information.
Results: In this pilot study analysis of the posted messages did not demonstrate use for learning of the workshop content. Participants did not generally find the environment of value for learning about treatment information. However, participants did share how they were meeting these needs. It was indicated that a combination of resources are being used to find and discuss treatment information, including in-person sources.
Conclusion: More research on the ways in which treatment information needs are being met by HIV/AIDS community members and how technology fits in this process is necessary before investing large amounts of money into web-based interventions. Although this study had a limited number of participants, the findings were unexpected and, therefore, of interest to those who intend to implement online consumer health education initiatives or interventions.