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IU researchers interview pro-anorexic bloggers for groundbreaking new study
Date:8/20/2012

they did not want to feel alone and were interested in finding others like themselves. They described interactions with family and friends as stressful "because they lack the understanding of their situation, while online they receive support constituted with sympathy, understanding and encouragement."

About half of the bloggers also said self-expression and the need to cope with social stigmas were other motives. When asked to give an example of how blogging might help them cope with stigma, six respondents answered that blogging offers them a different reality.

The majority of the sample reported that blogging about their illness improves their mood, and they found relief through their writing. The support they found was seen as unconditional.

"They receive encouragement when they post about their weight loss success and comfort in bloggers' comments when they fail in such efforts. Moreover, when a user wants to stop self-harm behavior or go into recovery, the community supports her choice too," the researchers explained.

"Our participants perceived the support within their ED community to be stronger than the support they received for their so-called strong ties to their offline life," they said, adding that eight bloggers reported meeting other community members in person.

In medical literature, a patient's decision to find support is seen as a good predictor of compliance and treatment leading to a cure.

Nearly 20 percent of the women interviewed for the study indicated that they were in the process of going through recovery from the illness. One respondent, who was in recovery, said that her blogging activities "gave her the skills to talk about her illness in the recovery process."

Of the 33 women interviewed, 27 defined their eating disorder as a mental illness and six said it was a coping mechanism. Contrary to previous research based on content analysis of the blogs, only three of those intervi
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Contact: George Vlahakis
vlahakis@iu.edu
812-855-0846
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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