Document Type

Journal Article


The University of Queensland


Education and Arts


Communications and Arts




Australian Research Council

Grant Number

ARC Number : LP0453946


This article was originally published as: Bonniface, L. N., Green, L. R., & Swanson, M. G. (2006). Communication on a health-related website offering therapeutic support: Phase 1 of the HeartNET Website. Australian Journal of Communication, 33(2,3), 89-107.


This paper investigates the usefulness of a modest-budget website set up to support people recovering from heart-related incidents through a combination of all or some of the following: surgery, drugs, and lifestyle change. Online communities have been shown to offer support for their members. Ideally, the members of this experimental site would eventually constitute an online community. Effective interaction and personal communication indicate that an online community is developing. The opposite is also true: declining and aborted exchanges might indicate a failure to establish community. This paper reports on the first eight weeks of the experimental website HeartNET. As a result of findings during phase one, researchers are radically rethinking the second phase of the research project. Even so, the early findings include some evidence of effective communication and hint that phase two may see the emergence of online community.