The pros and cons of getting engaged in an online social community embedded within digital cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia: survey among users

Coulson, Neil S. and Smedley, Richard and Bostock, Sophie and Kyle, Simon D. and Gollancz, Rosie and Luik, Annemarie I. and Hames, Peter and Espie, Colin (2016) The pros and cons of getting engaged in an online social community embedded within digital cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia: survey among users. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18 (4). e88/1-e88/9. ISSN 1438-8871

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Abstract

Background: Sleepio is a proven digital sleep improvement programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques. Users have the option to join an online community that includes weekly expert discussions, peer-to-peer discussion forums and personal message walls.

Objective: The aims of this study were to (1) explore the reasons for deciding to engage with the Sleepio online community, (2) explore the potential benefits arising from engagement with the online community, (3) identify and describe any problematic issues related to use of the online community.

Methods: In total, 100 respondents (70% female; mean age 51, range 26-82 years) completed the online survey. Most respondents had started Sleepio with chronic sleep problems (59% to to 10 years, 35% >10years), and had actively engaged with the online community (85% had made a discussion or wall post). At the time of the survey, respondents had used Sleepio for a median of 12 weeks (range from 3 weeks to 2 years).

Results: Responses to the open-ended questions were analysed using thematic analysis. This analysis revealed five initial drivers for engagement including: 1) the desire to connect with people facing similar issues; 2) seeking personalised advice; 3) curiosity; 4) being invited by other members; and 5) wanting to use all available sleep improvement tools. Advantages of engagement included: access to continuous support, reduced sense of isolation, being part of a non-judgmental community, personalised advice, positive comparisons with others, encouragement to keep going, and altruism. Five potential disadvantages were: design and navigation issues, uncertain quality of user-generated content, negative comparisons with others, excessive time commitments, and data privacy concerns. Participants related their community experiences to engagement with the Sleepio programme with the many stating it had supported their efforts to achieve sleep improvement, as well as helping with adherence and commitment to the programme.

Conclusions: Despite some concerns, members regarded the Sleepio community as a valuable resource. Online communities may be a useful means through which to support long-term engagement with online therapy for insomnia.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Coulson NS, Smedley R, Bostock S, Kyle SD, Gollancz R, Luik AI, Hames P, Espie CA The Pros and Cons of Getting Engaged in an Online Social Community Embedded Within Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia: Survey Among Users J Med Internet Res 2016;18(4):e88
Keywords: Internet; engagement; sleep; online community; discussion forum
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine > Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.5654
Depositing User: Coulson, Dr Neil
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2016 09:57
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2016 15:03
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/38628

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