Giving and receiving emotional support online: Communication competence as a moderator of psychosocial benefits for women with breast cancer

Woohyun Yoo*, Kang Namkoong, Mina Choi, Dhavan V. Shah, Stephanie Jean TSANG, Yangsun Hong, Michael Aguilar, David H. Gustafson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examines the moderating role of emotional communication competence in the relationship between Computer-Mediated Social Support (CMSS) group participation, specifically giving and receiving emotional support, and psychological health outcomes. Data were collected as part of randomized clinical trials for women diagnosed with breast cancer within the last two months. Expression and reception of emotional support was assessed by tracking and coding the 18,064 messages that 236 patients posted and read in CMSS groups. The final data used in the analysis was created by merging (a) computer-aided content analysis of discussion posts, (b) action log data analysis of system usage, and (c) baseline and 6-month surveys collected to assess change. Results of this study demonstrate that emotional communication competence moderates the effects of expression and reception of emotional support on psychological quality of life and breast cancer-related concerns in both desired and undesired ways. Giving and receiving emotional support in CMSS groups has positive effects on emotional well-being for breast cancer patients with higher emotional communication, while the same exchanges have detrimental impacts on emotional well-being for those with lower emotional communication competence. The theoretical and practical implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume30
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Breast cancer
  • Computer-mediated social support groups
  • Emotional communication competence
  • Emotional support

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