The latest issue of Communication Monographs has an article about blogging.
“Blogging is a fundamentally social activity,” according to authors Stephen Rains and David Keating (p. 512, vol. 78, issue 4, 2011). “Blogging is a novel context in which to study social support and some of the opportunities created by communication technologies that might facilitate supportive communication” (p. 513).
Entitled “The Social Dimension of Blogging about Health: Health Blogging, Social Support, and Well-being,” the article explores how blogging can “achieve some of the health benefits associated with supportive communication” (p. 511). They say that blogs hold an important role in our lives, citing a Pew Internet report that 12 million Americans author a blog (p. 514; Lenhart & Fox, 2006; www.pewinternet.org).
To go about their study, Rains and Keating searched blog hosting sites – including wordpress.com – looking particularly for blogs in which people actively share their experiences with health conditions (p. 518). Their search terms included: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, HIV, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, brain injury and lupus (pp. 519-520).
They submitted questionnaires to 121 people who run health-related blogs. They hypothesized that:
- blog readers get more social support the more involved they are in blogging (p. 516), and
- blog readers receive more healthful benefits from frequent blogging (p. 517).
They found a correlation between blog reader support toward the author of a blog and “perceptions of personal growth and health self-efficacy” (p. 524). People can realize more potential for their lives if they run a blog (p. 531). “The results offer some evidence that blog reader support is consequential for bloggers’ well-being” (p. 527).
Their study concludes that “blog reader support was negatively associated with loneliness and positively associated with personal growth” (p. 511). Blogs provide emotional support to people, and “foster positive outcomes for bloggers’ well-being” (p. 514).
So keep blogging – it’s good for your health!
(The full article is available here .)