Finding a New Kind of Knowledge on the HeartNET Website
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
Australian Research Council
ARC Number : LP0453946
Background: A website developed by the National Heart Foundation (WA Division) and Edith Cowan University, with the help of an Australian Research Council–Linkage grant, provides insight into the sense of isolation experienced by many heart patients which prompts them to engage in a relentless search to answer the fundamental question: why me? Objective: To discover whether an online community for people with heart conditions may help instil a sense of sharing a journey with others, and to assess the impact of this shared experience. Methods: The qualitative data constituted 50 in-depth interviews with heart patients using the HeartNET website. This website, with its 600+ membership, also provides Discussion Board data to add depth to the analysis. Results: Patients describe how their unsatisfactory search for information in one ‘place’ (the Internet) led them to discover a new ‘place’ (an online community) where they could ‘ask difficult questions’, and ‘gain support and wisdom’ from others. Conclusion: This paper suggests that, when anxious patients seek health related information, for example in a library, they may benefit from being given contact points to communicate with others who find themselves in similar situations. Internet-based social software (Web 2.0) can provide this kind of communication.