An Exploratory Study of Canadian Aboriginal Online Health Care Forums
Internet-based discussion forums provide access to health information and social support, and serve as a resource for others. This investigation analyzed health-oriented Aboriginal Internet discussion forum (Forum A; Forum B) conversations. The findings were framed with Nutbeam's model of health literacy. Discussions within Forum B were centralized around issues of political activism and advocacy regarding Aboriginal health care. Activity in Forum A encouraged the development of "virtual" social capital, with health care discussions providing a "just-in-time" model for health education. Members of Forum A functioned as a smoking cessation self-help group and as health educators. The Internet provided a venue for the dissemination of health information and also served as a virtual voice for lifestyle coaching, political action, community building, and advocacy.