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Online Social Support: Analysis of an Online Discussion Forum for Significant Others of Deployed Service Members

Authors:

Linda Desens ,

George Mason University, US
About Linda
Dr. Desens possesses over 20 years experience in the fields of health promotion, health communication, and military quality of life (QOL) programs. She is a research fellow with the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University and a Senior Advisor for Health Communication Science with the MITRE Corporation. She served as the co-founder and CEO of a health management company that provided non-medical home care, patient advocacy, respite care and hospital to home transition services to seniors with a focus on Veterans and their spouses. Prior to this, she served in leadership positions for Fitness and Health Promotion at Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. She has also led health and strategic communication projects for government sponsors that include the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, Headquarters Marine Corps, and the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
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Gary Kreps,

George Mason University, US
About Gary
Gary L.Kreps, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of Communication and Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University. He is an expert in the use of evidence-based communication strategies, programs, policies, and technologies to promote health, especially for vulnerable populations. His research is reported in more than 450 scholarly publications. Prior to joining the faculty at George Mason University he served as the founding Chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute.
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Yuhua Su

Dr. Su Statistics, US
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Abstract

Military deployments can place stress on family members that can affect their physiological and psychological health. Although there has been much research on online social support in health-related groups, there is limited research on online social support in a deployment context. The researchers of this study conducted a content analysis of 151 discussion threads related to military deployments in an online forum for the significant others (SOs) of service members to examine the types of social support messages enacted between SOs. These enacted social support messages were further analyzed for each phase of the deployment cycle. Results showed that information and emotional support were the most frequent types of social support enacted by SOs during a deployment cycle. Information support was the most commonly requested type of social support during the pre-deployment and post-deployment phases, while emotional support was requested most often during the deployment phase. In response to the requests for social support, information support was the most commonly provided type of social support during the pre-deployment phase, while emotional support was the most commonly provided type of social support during the deployment and post-deployment phases.

How to Cite: Desens, L., Kreps, G. and Su, Y., 2019. Online Social Support: Analysis of an Online Discussion Forum for Significant Others of Deployed Service Members. Journal of Veterans Studies, 4(2), pp.94–111. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jvs.v4i2.69
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Published on 03 Jun 2019.
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