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Online Support Groups for Depression in China: Culturally Shaped Interactions and Motivations

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Springer, London


Online support groups have drawn considerable attention from scholars in the past decades. While prior research has explored the interactions and motivations of users, we know relatively little about how culture shapes the way people use and understand online support groups. Drawing on ethnographic research in a Chinese online depression community, we examine how online support groups function in the context of Chinese culture for people with depression. Through online observations and interviews, we uncover the unique interactions among users in this online support group, such as peer diagnosis, peer therapy, and public journaling. These activities were intertwined with Chinese cultural values and the scarcity of mental health resources in China. We also show that online support groups play an important role in fostering individual empowerment and improving public understanding of depression in China. This paper provides insights into the interweaving of culture and online health community use and contributes to a context-rich understanding of online support groups.


Zhang, Renwen; Eschler, Jordan; Reddy, Madhu (2018): Online Support Groups for Depression in China: Culturally Shaped Interactions and Motivations. Computer Supported Cooperative Work 27(3-4)- ECSCW 2018: Proceedings of the 16th European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. DOI: 10.1007/s10606-018-9322-4. Springer, London. PISSN: ISSN 0925-9724. Long Papers. Nancy, France. 4-8 June 2018