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      The Internet as an Empowering Technology for Stigmatized Groups: a Case Study of Weight Loss Bloggers

      Proceedings of HCI 2011 The 25th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

      Human Computer Interaction

      4 - 8 July 2011

      Stigma, Obesity, Weight loss, Weblogs, Online disclosure

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          Despite the offline reluctance of individuals to talk openly about weight issues, there is an abundance of personal weblogs about weight loss with remarkably open accounts of everything to do with overweight. While the widespread use of personal blogs offer opportunities for interaction and communication they also raise privacy concerns. There are both potential positive and negative consequences for stigmatized individuals of online (self-) disclosure. Why are people willing to disclose information which has a social stigma offline? And can the Internet function as an empowering technology for those who are being stigmatized?

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          What do patients with prostate or breast cancer want from an Internet site? A qualitative study of information needs.

          The study aimed to explore the information needs of cancer patients, to solicit their views of Internet-based health information and to consider whether the DIPEx website would have addressed specific unmet information needs of people with breast or prostate cancer. Focus groups were conducted first to identify information needs. Participants were recruited through four breast and prostate cancer support groups in the UK. Individual interviews, in which participants were shown DIPEx and asked to search for material related to concerns that had been important to them as cancer patients, were conducted after the focus groups. Respondents said their information needs had been complex and changed over time while the information they had been given was often patchy, inconsistent, contradictory and haphazard. Access to practical and experiential information from other patients was highly valued. Those with experience of using the Internet expressed a clear preference for non-commercial sites for health information. Sites attached to recognised centres of excellence such as universities or well-known medical centres were also preferred. Respondents were aware of the possible pitfalls of taking health information from the Internet and often compared information from several sources before believing it.

            Author and article information

            July 2011
            July 2011
            : 114-119
            Oxford Internet Institute, Univeristy of Oxford

            1 St.Giles, OX1 3JS
            © Anne-Marie Oostveen. Published by BCS Learning and Development Ltd. Proceedings of HCI 2011 The 25th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

            This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

            Proceedings of HCI 2011 The 25th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction
            Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
            4 - 8 July 2011
            Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
            Human Computer Interaction
            Product Information: 1477-9358BCS Learning & Development
            Self URI (journal page):
            Electronic Workshops in Computing


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