Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Comparative Study
, 43 (2), 161-70

Interpersonal Interactions on Online Forums Addressing Eating Concerns

Affiliations
Comparative Study

Interpersonal Interactions on Online Forums Addressing Eating Concerns

Danielle C Ransom et al. Int J Eat Disord.

Abstract

Objective: Although some research suggests that online eating disorder forums promote "pro-eating-disorder" lifestyles and discourage recovery, other research suggests that such forums are an important source of interpersonal support. The current study extends this research by exploring the positive and negative behaviors encouraged on these forums and by comparing forum members' perceptions of support received from online and offline relationships to support received in relationships of age-matched controls.

Method: In a survey of 60 forum members, we assessed information exchanged and support provided on eating disorder forums. Further, we assessed perceptions of social support for general and specific life concerns in this group of forum members as well as 64 age-matched university controls.

Results: Results show that both adaptive and maladaptive behaviors are encouraged on the forums, and that this encouragement has some influence on forum members trying out these behaviors. Overall, forum members reported receiving less support for their eating concerns as compared to their general life stressors, and they perceived less support for both their general concerns and eating concerns in their offline relationships as compared to their online forum relationships. Moreover, forum members reported receiving less support from their offline relationships as compared to support received in relationships by age-matched controls.

Discussion: Forum members perceive less support in their important relationships than other peers do, and they seek out and participate in forums as a means of attaining greater social support. However, our research suggests that these forums also encourage dysregulated eating behaviors. Implications of online forum support and its impact on recovery are discussed further.

Similar articles

  • [Social Support in Suicide Forums]
    S Winkel et al. Prax Kinderpsychol Kinderpsychiatr 54 (9), 714-27. PMID 16305019.
    Suicide forums--interactive forums on the Internet--are attractive to suicidal youth. The question if participation in these forums might be dangerous (because of imitati …
  • Social Support in a Wired World: Use of Online Mental Health Forums in Norway
    PE Kummervold et al. Nord J Psychiatry 56 (1), 59-65. PMID 11869468.
    This study explored the use of the four major Norwegian mental-health-related online discussion forums; who participate, why, and what implications use may have. The obje …
  • The Presentation of "Pro-Anorexia" in Online Group Interactions
    J Gavin et al. Qual Health Res 18 (3), 325-33. PMID 18235156.
    Although pro-anorexia online support forums and the narratives that occur within them are increasingly the focus of research, none, to date, focuses closely on issues of …
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders in Childhood
    R Bryant-Waugh et al. Int J Eat Disord 43 (2), 98-111. PMID 20063374. - Review
    The study of childhood feeding and eating disturbances has been hampered by inconsistencies in classification and use of terminology. Greater clarity around subtypes of f …
  • [Friends of Virtual Ana--the Phenomenon of Pro-Anorexia in the Internet]
    M Stochel et al. Psychiatr Pol 44 (5), 693-702. PMID 21452504. - Review
    Anorexia nervosa is regarded as a serious mental disturbance, where denial of illness and strong resistance to treatment are symptomatic features. In many cases it leads …
See all similar articles

Cited by 15 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types

MeSH terms

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback