A thematic analysis of the "Ask the Doctor" Open Forum on the Tourette syndrome (UK) Association website
Singh Bhagrath, Nevjeet and Rickards, Hugh (2009) A thematic analysis of the "Ask the Doctor" Open Forum on the Tourette syndrome (UK) Association website. Indian Journal of Medical Informatics, 4 (1). pp. 2-2. ISSN 0973-9254
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BACKGROUND This study involved the qualitative analysis of a recently introduced "Ask the Doctor" open forum on the Tourette Syndrome Association website. Users of the website emailed a posting regarding Tourette's Syndrome, which was replied to by the forum doctor and then the subsequent correspondence followed as open source for people to view. This is a relatively new form of doctor patient interaction. CONTEXT AND PURPOSE This is a thematic analysis of 358 queries posted to an Internet based forum, the "Ask the doctor forum" on the Tourette Syndrome Association website between October 31st 2001 and June 31st 2003, aimed at describing the varied content of the postings. There are two aims of this study: to determine the usage of the site demographically, and to find out which topics categorised as "themes" emerged. RESULTS The site was well used, with the postings being viewed a total of 24447 times. Most of the postings (70%) concerned children with Tourette syndrome (TS). Postings, 72% of which were made by females varied enormously, from being about the symptoms of TS to requesting treatment advice from the forum doctor. During times of media interest in TS, the site showed a significant increase in subsequent activity. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS Members of organisations representing other psychiatric disorders could benefit from having a facility such as this, which importantly reduces the feeling of isolation that comes with a stigmatising condition and allows people to access reliable information.
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