Finding a new kind of knowledge on the HeartNET website

Health Info Libr J. 2007 Dec;24 Suppl 1:67-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00742.x.


Background: A website developed by the National Heart Foundation (WA Division) and Edith Cowan University, with the help of an Australian Research Council-Linkage grant, provides insight into the sense of isolation experienced by many heart patients which prompts them to engage in a relentless search to answer the fundamental question: why me?

Objective: To discover whether an online community for people with heart conditions may help instill a sense of sharing a journey with others, and to assess the impact of this shared experience.

Methods: The qualitative data constituted 50 in-depth interviews with heart patients using the HeartNET website. This website, with its 600+ membership, also provides Discussion Board data to add depth to the analysis.

Results: Patients describe how their unsatisfactory search for information in one 'place' (the Internet) led them to discover a new 'place' (an online community) where they could 'ask difficult questions', and 'gain support and wisdom' from others.

Conclusion: This paper suggests that, when anxious patients seek health-related information, for example in a library, they may benefit from being given contact points to communicate with others who find themselves in similar situations. Internet-based social software (Web 2.0) can provide this kind of communication.

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Heart Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval*
  • Internet*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Western Australia