Infertility is a prevalent medical condition that affects millions of individuals globally. Infertile patients may face multiple cycles of infertility treatments (e.g., in vitro fertilization, IVF) as well as psychological consequences such as anxiety, depression, and stress during the treatment process (Eugster & Vingerhoets, 1999; Maroufizadeh et al., 2019). Moreover, infertile women, particularly in developing countries such as China, often face stigmatization due to the traditional gender perception and social-cultural influences (Fu et al., 2015). Nowadays, infertile patients frequently resort to online support groups (OSGs) to seek information and emotional support (Erculj et al., 2021; Lee, 2017), although the effectiveness and outcomes of these OSGs vary (Lawlor & Kirakowski, 2014; Naslund et al., 2016). This paper investigates online discussions among infertile patients in a pregnancy-related forum in China and examines to what extent the OSGs provide emotional support. A topic modelling algorithm (Latent Dirichlet Allocation, LDA) was used and found that the predominant topics discussed among forum users include Family Relationship, Surgery, Therapy, and Affection. Using an automated lexical tool (Linguistic Inquiry Word Count, LIWC), we further compared the linguistic and psychological cues in the posts and comments. We found that pronouns and words related to positive emotions and insights are more prominent in comments; while terms concerning sad feelings, family, and power are more salient in posts, indicating that those posting comments are, in fact, trying to help alleviate emotional pain. This paper provides the first linguistic-psychological exploration of the online discussions among infertile patients in China and further adds to the literature the role OSGs play in helping people cope with stigmatized health conditions.
|Publication status||Published - 24 Jun 2022|
|Event||The 17th International Conference on Language and Social Psychology - Virtual|
Duration: 22 Jun 2022 → 25 Jun 2022
|Conference||The 17th International Conference on Language and Social Psychology|
|Period||22/06/22 → 25/06/22|