Alcohol online support groups: the role of discussion forums in constructing users understanding of their condition/disease

PhD researcher: Sally Sanger

Problem drinking remains a major issue for UK and other societies, affecting individuals, families and communities. Face-to-face support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, can play a large role in helping individuals recover – yet their online counterparts are under-researched and under-used by the NHS. This study aims to analyse and explore the different ways in which online alcohol support groups can contribute to users’ acquisition and development of beliefs about problem drinking – what it is, what causes it and how it should be dealt with. The research will consist of analysis of user postings in online forums and in-depth semi-structured interviews with users to identify the range of methods (including use of story) employed to achieve these ends. As most research has been carried out on AA, this project is focussing on groups that do not follow the 12 step programme.