Logging on, reaching out, and getting by: a systematic review of self-reported psychosocial impacts of online peer support for people impacted by cancer

Kimberley R. Allison, Pandora Patterson, Daniel Guilbert, Melissa Noke, Olga Husson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

For individuals impacted by their own or a family member’s cancer, connecting with other people in similar situations can be an invaluable source of informational and emotional support. Online spaces provide opportunities for peer support that may be more accessible, given the medical and logistical restrictions on face-to-face socialisation associated with cancer and treatment. However, little is known about the impacts of online peer support. This systematic review surveys the literature on psychosocial impacts of online peer support for people impacted by cancer, integrating research from psychology, health, communications, informatics and social computing disciplines. The reviewed papers and interventions vary widely in the type of online peer support provided, who this support was intended for, and how outcomes were evaluated. Quantitative evidence suggests that online peer support may improve psychosocial wellbeing, particularly anxiety and stress, although this appears to depend on how individuals engage and interact with others. Qualitative findings suggest clear value in connecting and sharing experiences with those in similar situations, benefits which may not be well captured quantitatively. For individuals who share experiences, express emotions and feel understood and accepted by others, online peer spaces may be a valuable and viable source of support. However, this require strategic community design and management to build an active and sustainable group dynamic which can effectively and safely support people impacted by cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number95
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalACM Proceedings on Human-Computer Interaction
Volume5
Issue numberCSCW1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cancer
  • online health community
  • online support group
  • peer support
  • psychosocial wellbeing
  • systematic literature review

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Logging on, reaching out, and getting by: a systematic review of self-reported psychosocial impacts of online peer support for people impacted by cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this