PACIS 2020 Proceedings


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Previous studies about online health communities (OHCs) have investigated their formation and persistence. Due to the impact of technological advancement on the structure of OHCs and the behaviour of their members, OHCs within social media platforms have adopted different forms of communication besides text. A tremendous number of images are shared, but we know little about the influence of image content on chronically ill adults in these communities. In this study, posted photos and metadata were collected from social network platforms using the popular chronic disease hashtag, #type1 diabetes. Through a qualitative and quantitative content analysis, we identified six elements that could affect user engagement in image-based OHCs: visual community identification, visual self-management diaries, knowledge contribution, social support, the technical features of platforms, and self-disclosure by users. Our findings extend prior work on defining OHC practices and have implications for the design of health messages for chronically ill users.



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