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The forum as a friend: parental mental illness and communication on open Internet forums
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Social and Psychological Studies.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Social and Psychological Studies.
2015 (English)In: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, ISSN 0933-7954, E-ISSN 1433-9285, Vol. 50, no 10, 1601-1607 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

PURPOSE:The aim of this study was to identify how daughters or sons to parents suffering from mental illness perceive their situation. The objective was to provide new knowledge based on what they communicate on open Internet forums.

METHODS:The sample consisted of forum posts written by individuals who reported that they had mentally ill parents. Data collection comprised 301 comments from 35 forum threads on 5 different Swedish Internet forums, and predetermined inclusion criteria were used. Data were analyzed qualitatively using thematic analysis.

RESULTS:The analysis generated four themes: "Caregiver burden," "Knowledge seeking," "Support from the forum," and "Frustration and powerlessness over health care." The results showed that parents' mental illness affected the forum writers on several levels, and they often felt stigmatized. The writers often lacked knowledge of their parents' mental illness and sought out Internet forums for information and support from peers in similar situations. The psychiatric care given to the parents was a source of dissatisfaction among the forum writers, who often felt that their parents did not receive adequate care.

CONCLUSIONS:This study shows that fear of stigmatization and perceived lack of care and support caused forum writers to anonymously seek out Internet forums for information and support from others with similar experiences. The role of social support and the attractiveness of anonymity and availability typical for open Internet forums ought to be considered by health care professionals and researchers when developing new ways for providing support for children or adolescents with a mentally ill parent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2015. Vol. 50, no 10, 1601-1607 p.
Keyword [en]
Parental mental illness; Internet forum; Stigma; Support
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37644DOI: 10.1007/s00127-015-1036-zISI: 000362006000014PubMedID: 25702167OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-37644DiVA: diva2:847667
Available from: 2015-08-20 Created: 2015-08-20 Last updated: 2015-10-23Bibliographically approved

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Hjärthag, Fredrik
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