Our project explores the online relationships and behaviour of people affected by a variety of extreme circumstances. Each of these forms a research area within the project:
- Disasters and humanitarian crises
- Life-threatening, life-shortening, and long-term conditions
- Organ and tissue donation
- Emotional distress
- Illicit drug use
- Social media data sets
- Transdisciplinary insights
Why we explored these particular situations?
People in these circumstances can be extremely vulnerable, and some people may be seeking help that could make the difference between life and death. Occasions can arise where it may be necessary to establish trust and empathy very quickly to make that difference. In some contexts, people may end up over-sharing information, or they may be disadvantaged by not sharing enough. At the same time, sharing helps others in the online community to establish whether they are responding to genuine distress.
Understanding how trust and empathy works in these circumstances can help to transform how resources and aid are distributed on a local and global basis. It could also enhance individual and community resilience, for example, improving expeiences of living with a health condition. But such changes may have both good and bad consequences. Because of this, ethics at a personal, global, institutional and governmental level, were at the core of our project.
As part of the research, we will be accessed online data from a wide range of sources and interacted with a variety of organisations, including UK charities, international non-governmental organisations and health charities. The project produced outputs from the research for academic audiences, our stakeholders, health professionals, and the general public.