Like an extended family: Relationships that emerge when older caregivers use written messages to communicate in an ICT-based healthcare service
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInformatics for Health and Social Care. 2017, 43(2), 207-217. 10.1080/17538157.2017.1364245
Objective: To explore the relationships that emerge amongst caregivers of persons with dementia and stroke when caregivers use written messages as their communication tool in a closed information and communication technology (ICT)-based support group. Methods: An explorative design with a qualitative approach was used that applied systematic text condensation (STC) to analyse 173 written messages extracted from a web forum. Results: Empathetic, empowering and familiar relationships emerged amongst peers of older caregivers when the caregivers used written messages as their communication tool. The empathetic relationship was characterised by sincerity and openness when the caregivers shared emotions related to caregiving. The empowering relationship reflected a fellowship based on solidarity influenced by a sense of optimism and a willingness to share knowledge to support one another in overcoming challenges. In the familiar relationship, the caregivers were thoughtful and good-humoured with one another and displayed an attitude of consideration towards one another, as in an extended family. Practice implication: The use of computer-mediated communication in health care service will change the context of establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Therefore, greater knowledge regarding how the peers of caregivers interact with one another is vital so nurses may better support and educate ICT-based support groups.