chapter  22
14 Pages

Computer-Mediated Social Support: Promises and Pitfalls for Individuals Coping with Health Concerns: Kevin B. Wright, Amy Janan Johnson, Daniel R. Bernard, and Joshua Averbeck

The communication of social support has been predominantly studied as a phenomenon that occurs in face-to-face interaction. Although face-to-face communication is certainly an important source of social support, this traditional focus on face-to-face support neglects the fact that social support frequently occurs in a variety of communication modalities and computer-mediated supportive discourse may even be preferred in some circumstances (Walther & Parks, 2002). The advent of the Internet has had a signifi cant impact on supportseeking behaviors (Neuhauser & Kreps, 2003). Online support groups have proliferated in the past decade: An estimated 90 million Americans have participated in some type of computer-mediated support group. It appears that the growth of online support groups will continue to be an important context for social support interactions.