Findings and Future Direction

Findings and Future Direction

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4020-5.ch006
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Studies show that caregivers and patients use social media to exchange and gather information. A research-based understanding of conversations on social media platforms will shed light on characteristics of an autism community's support toward its members. This chapter deduces the efficacy of social support provided by the autism community toward its members to cope with daily life challenges.
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Analyzing Research Questions And Findings

The Internet and social media have transformed how individuals connect, communicate, and share information (Wigand, 1988; Wigand, Wood, & Mande, 2010). Given the extensive use of cyberspace, individuals within a community are fit to discuss and exchange information through Internet-based media. Online health communities provide a means for individuals to learn about illness, seek and offer support, and connect with individuals in similar circumstances (Beykikhoshk, Arandjelović, Phung, Venkatesh, & Caelli, 2015).

The prevalence of autism in the younger population is high compared to other disorders (CDC, 2014; Zablotsky, Black, Maenner, Schieve, & Blumberg, 2015). Although autism cannot be cured, the lives of people diagnosed with autism can be improved through social interaction (Davidson, 2008; Boyd, & Corley, 2001). In addition, there is a shortage of adequate resources to deliver care to these individuals. Families dealing with autism face rising costs and emotional stress (Stroever et al., 2011). A high percentage of individuals with disorders like autism use online resources to learn about and cope with their condition (Mazurek, 2013). For families dealing with autism, social media provides an open and accessible platform to share, gather, and exchange information. Community members provide a feeling of solidarity to other members. The community exchanges knowledge and provides social support. This support improves the lives of those dealing with autism (Wills, 1991). Online autism community members reach out to other members to share and cope with challenges. The online community empathetically provides support through different social media platforms by sharing a feeling of solidarity (Saha & Agarwal, 2015a). Social support facilitated by community members helps caregivers surmount challenges (Saha & Agarwal, 2015b). It can reduce psychological stress and enhance the quality of life.

In this research, the authors study online social support and stress provided by interactions among members of the online autism community. The study aims to quantify stress and social support provided by online autism community members. The primary focus is the interactions between members of the community, including stress and social support.

This study is not a substitute for clinical research on other intervention strategies related to autism. On the contrary, this methodology provides a justification to build a knowledge base on aspects of intervention strategies for the health condition from a receiver’s perspective. It prioritizes resources in the testing procedures of intervention strategies for dealing with various health issues. Furthermore, it is important to assess the effectiveness of online communities regarding providing social support and stress to its members. This study seeks to answer the following research questions:

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