Gillian Mansfield University of Parma ”The dynamics of popularised discourse for diabetics: Online forums for information and emotional support.”
The aim of this paper is to examine the discursive strategies of seeking and giving information as well as emotional support for diabetics in online forums. The study analyses a popular website, Diabetes.co.uk, as an instance of a virtual community of practice. The dataset includes news about diabetes and about people with diabetes. The posts are published by Diabetes.co.uk staff and users who share their experiences with the disease. A corpus of news contributions and forum discussions was compiled, and then analysed by generating a software concordance for significant words and expressions. Findings show the website is characterised by a patient-centred discourse. The discursive strategies identified fall into two categories: a popularised medical news genre providing knowledge produced by the website staff and an emotionally-charged, informal, written-to-be-spoken discourse shared by users joining the discussion forum. The discussion forum posts frame diabetics as patients seeking to achieve empowerment and self-management from their peers who transmit experiential knowledge of their chronic condition. The paper attempts to provide further insights into effective computer-mediated diabetic discourse for health professionals and language scholars alike.
Keywords: online healthcare communication, diabetes, popularised diabetic discourse, emotional support, empowerment, self-management.