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.