People are increasingly using the Internet as a major source of health-related information. Online health communities are interesting in this regard, because they are an important source of information, but also appear to serve an emotional support role in connecting people who have similar conditions or can otherwise empathize with each others’ experiences. Trust is critical to the continued operation of these forums, because each support consumer is typically identified only by a pseudonym, important personal information is often revealed, and the consequences of acting on incorrect advice can be severe. Therefore, studies of established communities indicate that a significant level of trust develops between people in these forums. How this trust develops, however, has not been explained adequately in past research. In this conceptual paper, we propose a trust formation model that explains how trust is built in a non-commercial context where emotional bonding may play a large role.



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