Content analysis was used to study interactions in an online health community support group relying on discussion forum software as a medium for discussions. We found that the overwhelming majority of the threads considered are on topic, which indicates that the discussion forum does contribute to the group's mission. By applying existing scales to measure the complexity of interactions from a social constructivist perspective (the level of learning), we find a wide range of levels of learning among the threads. In particular, there are substantial numbers of threads involving rich discussions of facts and ideas resulting in substantial numbers of threads rated at middle and high levels of learning. This discovery sets the stage for our future research of the impact of the level of learning in a discussion thread on the quality of information the thread offers and on user satisfaction about such information.
Ghazali, Achmad; Tretiakov, Alexei; and Hunter, Inga, "Knowledge Construction in Online Health Community Support Groups" (2009). ACIS 2009 Proceedings. 40.