Exploring Psychosocial Support Online: A Content Analysis of Messages in an Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Community
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The increased usage of online cancer support groups as a resource for health-related information and social support has sparked numerous discussions about the role of online support in healthcare. However, little is known about the role of social-networking groups focused on supporting adolescents and young adults (AYAs) dealing with cancer. The current investigation report findings from a content analysis designed to explore how AYAs use an online support group to meet their psychosocial needs. Overall, members of the community focused on exchanging emotional and informational support, coping with difficult emotions through expression, describing experiences of being an AYA dealing with cancer through language (metaphors), enacting identity through evaluations of the new normal (life with and after cancer), and communicating membership as an AYA with cancer. This study highlights the unique needs of the AYA cancer community and offers a preliminary roadmap for practitioners, and network members, such as family and friends, to attempt to meet the needs of this unique community.