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Abstract

This study investigates how social capital is built and maintained in a Hybrid Virtual Communities (HVC), that is, a group of people with shared interests who meet face-to-face to exchange information and knowledge or provide emotional support and also do so in a “virtual” or online environment. Past health-IS research has primarily focused on pure virtual environments; however, many communities entail face-to-face interactions as well. This research helps fill this void. Discourse analysis of virtual interactions, face-to-face (FTF) observations, and semi-structured interviews of a patient-oriented HVC were analyzed, providing rich descriptive data. Using the theoretical foundation of social capital, this article extends existing theory by combining Drentea and Moren-Cross’s [2005] social support framework with Etzioni and Etzioni’s [1999] aspects of community framework to better explain building and maintaining social capital in a HVC.

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