Reflexive Dynamics in Patient Self Care Online Communities

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Point of Contact: Sean Goggins
Online support communities are complex, dynamic systems subject to numerous internal and external factors. This project investigates how internal factors (e.g. interactions between individuals in conversation-driven online health groups) interact with external factors (e.g. technology design, demographics), leading to different performance levels (e.g. support matching, information quality). We apply complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory to pursue this research. CAS is a subfield of complexity science, and describes systems in terms of stable patterns of local interactions that generate coherent aggregate behaviors. It has been applied successfully to various human social systems and offers a potentially unifying framework for divergent social technology research efforts.