Sunday, October 13, 2013

Why People Blog About Their Illnesses (Research)

Writing about one’s illness in a private journal has risen to another level with technology. Now, many people share ongoing public records of their illness journeys. On the Internet, readers all over the world can empathize, advise, and become inspired by illness blog posts. Not much research exists about this growing phenomenon, but researchers on patients' blogging are beginning to explore psychosocial effects and motivating factors for initiating and maintaining a blog.

One Internet survey study included a 34-item online questionnaire created, tested, and promoted through online health/disease forums. Respondents provided information regarding demographics, health condition, initiation and upkeep of blogs, and dynamics of online communication. The survey was completed by 230 blog respondents who were predominantly female and generally highly educated.

Respondents reported the following:

1)   An illness blog increased connections with others, decreased isolation, and provided an outlet for sharing their illness stories.

2)   Blogging promoted accountability for themselves and others. Explaining their stories created opportunities for understanding and coping with illness.

Blogging about their illnesses empowers people, makes them feel less isolated and more proactive in encouraging themselves and others. While looking for blogs written by older adults, I discovered “Caroline’s Breast Cancer Blog,” which includes images, videos, and other resources. This blog is written by Caroline Ronten, who was first diagnosed with cancer  over thirty years ago. Outspoken and feisty, Caroline’s blog dates back to 2007. She says, “I started this blog so I could keep my friends and family up on my dealings with breast cancer, but now it has evolved into my take on the medical world as well as my medical ups and downs.” You can view Caroline’s cancer blog here, and she can also school you on a few other ailments and problems in the world.

Health care blogs and health care websites can be persuasive. They are used by many to impact the thoughts and actions of others. Is one more persuasive than the other? Here’s what the research says:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.


  1. thank you for including me!

    1. On the negative side, some people who blogged about their illnesses regretted it later because of the way others responded to them. For example, it may have been a factor in their not getting a job they wanted. In terms of new relationships, they would have preferred that people didn't know about their illnesses so soon in their relationship.