Online health communities (OHCs) enable community members to share informational and emotional support, enhancing their psychological and functional well-being. However, attrition of community membership has long hindered OHCs' continuous development. Previous research suggests that social support providers, a particular participation style, tend to maintain longer community membership and demonstrate increased engagement in the community. This study aims to identify the factors that motivate members to transition from social support seekers to providers. Drawing on reciprocity and social norms, we hypothesize that community members who have received informational/emotional support or have been exposed to a higher proportion of such support are more likely to become informational/emotional providers. To validate these hypotheses, we will analyze data collected from a real OHC. Our findings will contribute to the contextualization of social support theory in OHC settings and offer practical guidance for enhancing community sustainability to OHC administrators.
Cheng, Yue and Ma, Dan, "From Seekers to Providers: Investigating the Transition of Participation Style in Online Health Communities" (2023). PACIS 2023 Proceedings. 42.
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