Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore content and organizational themes within an electronic support group for parents of children with eosinophilic esophagitis. This group experiences a high degree of potential stress and geographic dispersal and thus provided a distinct population with high support needs. A thematic analysis of the text from a public group hosted by a social networking site was performed. Inductive coding was used to identify content themes. The following four domains were identified within the text: good doctors, bad doctors, medical advice, and practical advice. The bad doctor theme elicited particularly high response rates and was most emotionally charged. It was also most often seen in conjunction with the medical advice theme. In addition, no internal conflict was observed. The results suggest that parents are in conflict with doctors largely due to poor communication strategies on the part of the clinician. This conflict can co-opt medical advice in order to gain some control in the doctor-caregiver relationship. However, evidence within the text suggests that good doctors can enhance the clinical interaction and its lasting effects via a patient centered communicative approach that frames the interaction on the caregiver and child experience. This study suggests that this interaction is crucial for characterizing the healthcare experience for parents and that doctors can improve the experience of caregivers and patients by orienting the communication event around the parent and patient.

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