Managing 'difficult emotions' and family life: Exploring insights and social support within online self-management training

C. Sanders, A. Rogers, C. Gardner, A. Kennedy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Previous research has demonstrated how the Internet can foster emotional support and provide a 'private' space for discussing sensitive issues. Whilst the family has been located as a primary source of support, empirical research on the dynamics of close personal relationships in chronic illness experience remains a challenge. Objective: To explore the role of family relationships in supporting self-care and the nature of social support exchanged within an online self-management training course. Methods: Qualitative thematic and narrative analysis of online discussion boards. Postings for 218 participants, divided between 11 groups were included for a course section that focused on 'difficult emotions'. Results: Participants exchanged a high degree of emotional support and revealed much about their 'real life' relationships. The latter highlighted the complexities of managing illness within family contexts alongside additional pressures of daily life such as caring commitments and work roles. Discussion: The private interactive space created within the course allowed insights into the dynamics of family life associated with illness management that are challenging to research. Simultaneously, collective support was developed amongst this group of predominantly working women. The article points to the implications for such interventions and associated evaluative research beyond this selective group. © The Author(s) 2011.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)134-146
    Number of pages12
    JournalChronic illness
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


    • Expert Patients Programme
    • family relationships
    • internet
    • self-management
    • social support


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