A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) has assessed how chronic cough sufferers use online health forums, including the treatment advice they share with one another and the possible clinical uses of online forums in chronic cough.
Three open-access health forums were searched for threads related to chronic cough. Identified threads were screened against inclusion and exclusion criteria adapted from the British Thoracic Society (BTS) Guidelines related to chronic cough diagnosis. Included data were subjected to qualitative thematic analysis.
In total, 96 threads were included in the analysis, consisting of posts by 223 forum users. Three main themes were identified: the effect of chronic cough on the lives of patients, the treatment advice shared between users, and the provision of support within forums.
Chronic cough symptoms had impacts on multiple aspects of patients’ health and well-being. To try and combat these issues, forum users suggested a variety of treatments to one another, ranging from mainstream traditional therapies to odd alternative remedies. The provision of support and empathy were also prominent themes in discussion threads.
The article identified that online forums may provide increasing benefit to users through the addition of a moderator.
The full study can be read on the JMIR website.
Sinha A, Porter T, Wilson A
The Use of Online Health Forums by Patients With Chronic Cough: Qualitative Study
J Med Internet Res 2018;20(1):e19