Exploring Resource-Sharing Behaviors for Finding Relevant Health Resources: Analysis of an Online Ovarian Cancer Community

Khushboo Thaker, Yu Chi, Susan Birkhoff, Daqing He, Heidi Donovan, Leah Rosenblum, Peter Brusilovsky, Vivian Hui, Young Ji Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Online health communities (OHCs) provide patients and survivors of ovarian cancer (OvCa) and their caregivers with help beyond traditional support channels, such as health care providers and clinicians. OvCa OHCs promote connections and exchanges of information among users with similar experiences. Users often exchange information, which leads to the sharing of resources in the form of web links. Although OHCs are important platforms for health management, concerns exist regarding the quality and relevance of shared resources. Previous studies have examined different aspects of resource-sharing behaviors, such as the purpose of sharing, the type of shared resources, and peer user reactions to shared resources in OHCs to evaluate resource exchange scenarios. However, there is a paucity of research examining whether resource-sharing behaviors can ultimately determine the relevance of shared resources. Objective: This study aimed to examine the association between OHC resource-sharing behaviors and the relevance of shared resources. We analyzed three aspects of resource-sharing behaviors: types of shared resources, purposes of sharing resources, and OHC users’ reactions to shared resources. Methods: Using a retrospective design, data were extracted from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition discussion forum. The relevance of a resource was classified into three levels: relevant, partially relevant, and not relevant. Resource-sharing behaviors were identified through manual content analysis. A significance test was performed to determine the association between resource relevance and resource-sharing behaviors. Results: Approximately 48.3% (85/176) of the shared resources were identified as relevant, 29.5% (52/176) as partially relevant, and 22.2% (39/176) as irrelevant. The study established a significant association between the types of shared resources (χ218=33.2; P<.001) and resource relevance (through chi-square tests of independence). Among the types of shared resources, health consumer materials such as health news (P<.001) and health organizations (P=.02) exhibited significantly more relevant resources. Patient educational materials (P<.001) and patient-generated resources (P=.01) were more significantly associated with partially relevant and irrelevant resources, respectively. Expert health materials, including academic literature, were only shared a few times but had significantly (P<.001) more relevant resources. A significant association (χ210=22.9; P<.001) was also established between the purpose of resource sharing and overall resource relevance. Resources shared with the purpose of providing additional readings (P=.01) and pointing to resources (P=.03) had significantly more relevant resources, whereas subjects for discussion and staying connected did not include any relevant shared resources. Conclusions: The associations found between resource-sharing behaviors and the relevance of these resources can help in collecting relevant resources, along with the corresponding information needs from OvCa OHCs, on a large scale through automation. The results from this study can be leveraged to prioritize the resources required by survivors of OvCa and their caregivers, as well as to automate the search for relevant shared resources in OvCa OHCs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33110
JournalJMIR Cancer
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by awards from the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health (R01-LM013038). The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© Khushboo Thaker, Yu Chi, Susan Birkhoff, Daqing He, Heidi Donovan, Leah Rosenblum, Peter Brusilovsky, Vivian Hui, Young Ji Lee.

Keywords

  • information seeking
  • link sharing
  • online health community
  • ovarian cancer
  • resource sharing
  • topical relevance
  • user behavior modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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