Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Online social support : an exploratory study of breastfeeding women's use of internet and mobile applications to obtain peer support
Author: Burman, Ana Beatriz Santana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 2411
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Online social support is reported to be used by a number of people to obtain social interaction and exchange communication as a way to buffer stressful situations. Breastfeeding women experience a significant change in their lives and routine which a number of women find it stressful for various reasons. Research shows that breastfeeding women use the Internet to obtain support, however little is known about how breastfeeding women use online social support and their perceptions, concerns and expectations about using it. An interpretive approach using qualitative methods was adopted in this research to obtain and analyse the data acquired through interviews and observations. The framework proposed by the Social Cognitive theory was used to conduct this research and to provide insights into online social support in a breastfeeding peer support context. The results in this research indicate that in spite of face-to-face interventions being favoured, online social support is perceived as a helpful alternative support with the potential to positively influence breastfeeding self-efficacy. A number of similar characteristics of face-to-face support were found to be present in online social support, such as emotional and informational support, empathy and empowerment. Online social support was perceived as offering additional features to traditional support including convenience of use, connection with peers and supporters at any time of the day, and the opportunity to express emotions and issues textually. Certain concerns were also associated to using online social support to support breastfeeding women, which need to be taken into consideration by providers of online social support. These included the need for training volunteers in this type of media, confidentiality and trustworthiness of the information available online and issues related to digital divide. These findings are useful to further the understanding of the implications of online social support in self-efficacy and the associated outcomes. Policy makers, social scientists and breastfeeding support organisations can use the findings in this research to develop future breastfeeding promotion strategies and interventions. Ultimately, breastfeeding women benefit from the findings of this research, through the implementation of online social support interventions addressing the issues raised in this research. These women will consequently have access to more services and applications, as well as engage with volunteers or clinicians trained to fulfil their needs over an alternative channel.
Supervisor: Papazafeiropoulou, A.; Barnet, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Online social support ; Health ; Breastfeeding