Online peer self-management support in Asthma by Anna De Simoni
Online peer self-management support in asthma has potential to be scaled up. Our research on peer support in the Asthma UK online health communities (OHCs) has shown that superusers (i.e. the top 1-5% active users) are responsible for holding OHCs together, engage with users with low posting activity, and indirectly contribute to increase link formation between community members. Being part of an OHC where most users are part of an interconnected group is key for effective spread of information and support.
At PCRS Respiratory Conference 2019 Anna De Simoni presented the results of a first survey study to superusers recruited through the Asthma UK OHC moderator. Superusers’ participation in the OHC was prompted by interest in finding out about asthma and its medical treatment and being unwell. Engagement increased over time as participants furthered their familiarity with the OHCs, awareness, knowledge and confidence of self-management strategies. Superusers’ awareness of the limits of their advice was reassuring. Financial or social recognition of superuser role was not considered relevant; reward came from helping and interacting with others.
The annual PCRS conference was itself an example of the potential of spread on information in a group of interacting academics and clinicians, enhanced by the absence of sitting stations! Indeed, it has been for me a great opportunity for sharing academic insight, strengthen collaborations and even share research protocols.