Social capital and consumer value co-created within an online health community

Susan Stewart Loane*, Cynthia M. Webster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Many health providers sponsor online communities that enable health consumers to connect and share experiences. This qualitative study draws upon both social capital and consumer behavior theories to demonstrate that consumers participating in the creation of social capital co-create value for themselves and each other. This netnographic study contributes and operationalizes theoretical frameworks for identifying social capital and consumer value within online communities. Results identify 14 social-capital-building practices and further reveal that these practices represent two distinct themes: practices that create a caring environment and practices that assist others. Findings indicate that members of online health communities gain affective, functional, social, and rational benefits such as empathy, self-esteem, status, connectedness, and efficiency. As a managerial and practical contribution, this study establishes online communities as an important component of patients’ healthcare networks not only for exchanging information and support but also as settings for accessing social capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-345
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing
Issue number3
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Consumer value
  • health
  • online community
  • social capital


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