“My Eating Disorder Recovery Story” – Patient-constructed Recovery Narratives of Eating Disorders on Social Media: the Health Impact of Recovery Narrative on Both Content Creators and Audiences

Project: Research project

Project Details


The emerging popularity of social media use for recovery among people with chronic mental illnesses has challenged the existing research paradigm that depicts social media as the ultimate villain in mental health care. Evidently, people with chronic mental health concerns have been using social media to document their struggles and recovery process online, in a hope to provide valuable first-hand health information, tips coming out of personal experiences, support and validation to those with similar concerns. The growing trend has shed a shimmering light to the possibility that social media could create a positive impact on one’s mental health, especially those who’re already suffering from mental health conditions. In the specific context of eating disorders (ED), a fatal mental illness impacting nearly 9 million people worldwide and 3% of population in Hong Kong, researchers also noted the trend of patients sharing personal recovery stories on social media to help both themselves and others understand the condition and treatment, seek and provide social support, and make sense of their experiences. Despite the proliferation of ED recovery content posted by actual patients on social media, less is known about the construction of a recovery narrative from the patient’s perspective and less is understood about the impact of such recovery narrative on the general audience. Thus, in this project, I’ll first define the self-constructed narrative consisting of personal experience recovering from an illness as a recovery narrative, and then further evaluate the impact of the recovery narrative on both the creating and receiving end of it. The project consists of 2 separate studies. Study 1 employs the method of qualitative interview to investigate the narrative construction process from the patient’s perspective, evaluating the health benefits and risks associated with social media narrative construction for ED patients. Study 2 uses an online experiment to examine the effect of patient-constructed narrative effect on the general public, in terms of raising awareness of ED, reducing ED stigma, forming positive food attitudes and subsequently promoting healthy eating habit.
StatusNot started
Effective start/end date1/01/2530/04/26


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