A Qualitative Investigation of the Impact of Peer to Peer Online Support for Women Living With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Sarah Holbrey; Neil S Coulson


BMC Womens Health. 2013;13(51) 

In This Article


Background: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common, chronic condition which affects women living with the condition both physically and psychologically. Social support may be beneficial to sufferers in coping with chronic conditions and the Internet is becoming a common place for accessing social support and information. The aim of this study was to consider the experiences of women living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome who access and participate in an online support group discussion forum dedicated to issues surrounding this condition.
Methods: Fifty participants responded to a series of open-ended questions via an online survey.
Results: Thematic analysis revealed a number of empowering and disempowering experiences associated with online support group participation. The empowering processes reported by members of the group included: Connecting with others who understand; Access to information and advice; Interaction with healthcare professionals; Treatment-related decision making; Improved adjustment and management. In terms disempowering processes, only two were described by group participants: Reading about the negative experiences of others and Feeling like an outsider.
Conclusions: For women living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, participation within an online support group may help to empower them in a range of important ways however, there may be some disempowering consequences.