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Online HIV Forums and Support Groups - A Survey

Do You Use Them and How?


Updated July 12, 2008

If you have ever scoured the internet for HIV-related material, you have probably come across various online HIV forums and support groups. In fact we have one right here at About.com. These groups and forums can be very good places to find support within the HIV community. For those people who do not want to meet others face to face, the anonymity of online forums and support groups can provide the support they need while maintaining the person's confidentiality. Still, you may be wondering: Who are the people using online forums? And how do you use online support groups?

There is currently a survey study looking for participants to examine the use of online support groups and forums, offered by a university in the U.K. I've taken the survey and it is fun; anonymous, and provides you an opportunity to examine your own online habits and how you are using your time online.

About the Principal Investigator (PI)

Merel Baars, a health psychology Masters Degree candidate at the University of Nottingham in the UK, is in charge of the survey. This survey is being undertaken within the Institute of Work, Health, and Organisations at the University of Nottingham.

A Description of the Survey

"The overall purpose of the project is to increase our knowledge about online support groups and how they help people living with HIV," Baars says. "The information gained from this study may help us to develop further the information and services provided for people living with HIV. At the moment, I am in the process of recruiting participants. You are invited to participate in a research study by the University of Nottingham."

The questionnaire asks questions about peoples’ use of HIV-related online support groups, coping strategies, perceptions of social support and health. It will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. The study is targeted at people actively using the forum (reading and posting) but also people who just read messages.

This study has been subject to ethical review by the Institute of Work, Health and Organisations Ethics Committee to ensure that the study is conducted in an ethically appropriate manner.

  • Participation may be discontinued at any time without giving a reason. Identifiable personal details will be omitted to ensure anonymity of responses.
  • The responses will be kept secure and private. Only the researchers will have access to the data; any printouts or disks containing the data will be stored in a locked file.
  • All information collected during the course of the study will be kept strictly confidential.
  • Any personal comments from the returned questionnaires that are used in project reports or academic papers will be quoted anonymously and anything that might identify you will be removed.

If you are interested in participating in the study, head to Survey Monkey to get started.

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