A Longitudinal Investigation of Empathic Exchanges in Online Cancer Support Groups

Han, J.Y., Kim, E., & Lee, Y-I. (Grady Ph.D. student) (2017, May). A Longitudinal Investigation of Empathic Exchanges in Online Cancer Support Groups: Message Reception and Expression Effects on Patient’s Health Outcomes. Paper to be presented to the Health Communication Division of the International Communication Association Annual Conference, San Diego, CA.

Abstract: Although recent empirical findings have suggested evidence of expression effect over reception effect, there remain both theoretical and methodological complexities concerning whether and under what condition message expression and reception exert influence on various psychosocial outcomes. Relying on social support theory and computational social science approaches, this study aims to examine the effects of empathic exchanges on cancer patient’s short- and long-term health outcomes. Our findings suggest that both empathy expression and reception are crucial to attaining benefits for cancer patients, each predicting differential cognitive and affective health outcomes. Further, our finding supports the stress-buffering hypothesis that empathy reception provides a beneficial effect for patients who experienced a higher degree of depression associated with their cancer diagnosis and follow-up treatments.

Jeong-Yeob Han 

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