Social support in computer-mediated settings is an important variable in health communication research, yet little is known about the factors that influence the amount of social support one gives and receives in online support groups. To shed some light on this issue, the authors examined demographics, disease-related factors, psychosocial factors, and strategies for coping with breast cancer as potential determinants of which patients provide support to others and which ones consume it. Data collected from 177 participants in the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System Living With Breast Cancer program revealed that individuals who are younger, have higher levels of positive reframing, and lower levels of self-blame are more likely to provide emotional support in online settings. In contrast, individuals who are more educated, have less perceived availability of social support, and have lower levels of religious coping are more likely to receive emotional support from others. The authors discuss the theoretical and practical implications for providing effective psychosocial support for women with breast cancer.
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