Using MySpace for Health Information: Where is the Empathy?

March 10, 2008 at 5:32 am 10 comments

MySpace has over 300 million accounts as of 2/3/08 and was the #1 website in the US at least one week in 2006. If someone is a regular user of MySpace and has a health question, it is easy to turn to one’s community for help. MySpace Forums have a Health and Fitness section with exercise, general, and nutrition forums. The most active discussion under Nutrition is a thread on diets started 6/9/05 and it includes a post from someone who offer 59 ways to eat less of which many are potentially extremely dangerous. The 1300 replies range from serious posts about anorexia to advertisements. The other forums are similar, with a mix of serious, frivolous, and seemingly harmful discussions about bodybuilding, natural remedies, steroids, etc. There is a broader mix of comments than in most health forums and the amount that are off topic or what I perceive as far from helpful is far greater than in other forums I have looked at. Most other health forums tend toward highly supportive comments or advice. Are there different social norms in MySpace that lead to less empathic behavior?


Entry filed under: health, online health communities. Tags: , , , , .

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Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa:


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