Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.792706
Title: The role of online discussion forums during a public health emergency
Author: Cole, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 6764
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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Abstract:
During a public health emergency, access to professional healthcare may be constrained. Online discussion forums provide an alternative - access to a 'Wise Crowd' from which Collective Intelligence may emerge - but lie outside of traditional quality control structures. This thesis examines whether certain characteristics of such platforms encourage and signpost higher quality information, and what utility this may offer during a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. It synthesises results from three separate studies: interviews with Ebola witnesses during the 2014-16 West Africa outbreak; doctors' assessments of the quality of information provided in response to questions asked on health discussion forums, including r/ebola on Reddit.com, dedicated to discussing Ebola; and an investigation of online health community moderators by non- participant observation, interviews, and access to private areas of discussion sites not accessible to general users. The research goes beyond previous work in three major ways: First, analysis of health-seeking behaviour presented in this thesis identifies three separate stages of risk perception and individual concern during an outbreak with different types of questions asked in each stage, each requiring different platform characteristics. Second, assessment of the quality of the health advice in major online forums is determined in this study according to the judgements of doctors; this differs from previous research that used indirect assessment. Results suggests that such forums can provide signposts to good quality information. Third, the investigation of the role of teams of volunteer moderators of reddit discussion forums identifies and analyses the task-components and skill-mix required to set up and manage a discussion forum during a serious disease outbreak. This points to a larger role for technical skills and forum experience than has previously been identified. The conclusions of this thesis suggest ways in which online platforms may facilitate better health information exchange during future serious disease outbreaks.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.792706  DOI: Not available
Keywords: human-computer interaction ; Collective Intelligence ; Infectious Diseases ; Ebola ; Reddit ; Health Information Management ; Epidemiology
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