Blogging helps chronic pain patients feel less isolated

For patients suffering from chronic pain or illness, blogging about their condition can help to decrease feelings of isolation and increase their sense of usefulness, according to a study published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Of of the 230 respondents, most (88 percent) had blogs that were public and searchable online, and 64 percent used their own names on their posts.

Although close to 90 percent of the bloggers said they shared their posts with friends and family members, but not even half (42 percent) did the same with their healthcare providers.

For the bloggers who chose not to share their posts with providers, they said they were concerned about negative physician feedback and an anticipated lack of interest. In particular, many respondents expressed nervousness about their providers' judging them on their feelings and actions. Some respondents also were worried about expressing negative opinions regarding provider services and care received.

Patients generally said that blogging had a positive impact on their lives. According to study author Pamela Katz Ressler of the Tufts University School of Medicine, blogging caused the patients to feel more accountable to both themselves (to complete posts) and to their readers, which also led to a sense of connection to others.

"Chronic illness and pain can separate an individual from their usual forms of interaction and meaning, and new forms of interaction and meaning need to be cultivated in order to support positive psychosocial health," Ressler wrote. "The process of blogging allows for the creation of real-time sharing of experience with family and a community of others in similar situations."

A study published in April in the journal Preventing Chronic Diseases found that technology use by seniors helped to empower them and improve their health. While the study focused on a variety of different technologies, as opposed to just blogging, its researchers found that smartphones and other mobile devices also can help prevent feelings of isolation and neglect, as well as improve patient-provider communication.

Many of these patients and their family members have found solace in the use of social media outlets, such asTwitter, Facebook or other customized social networks.

To learn more:
- read the JMIR study

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