Examining the Supports and Advice That Women With Intimate Partner Violence Experience Received in Online Health Communities: Text Mining Approach

Chi Ching Vivian Hui, Malavika Eby, university pittsburgh, heeyoung Lee, Jamie Zelazny, Judy C Chang, Daqing He, Young Ji Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an underreported public health crisis primarily affecting women associated with severe health conditions and can lead to a high rate of homicide. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, more women with IPV experiences visited online health communities (OHCs) to seek help because of anonymity. However, little is known regarding whether their help requests were answered and whether the information provided was delivered in an appropriate manner. To understand the help-seeking information sought and given in OHCs, extraction of postings and linguistic features could be helpful to develop automated models to improve future help-seeking experiences.

The objective of this study was to examine the types and patterns (ie, communication styles) of the advice offered by OHC members and whether the information received from women matched their expressed needs in their initial postings.

We examined data from Reddit using data from subreddit community r/domesticviolence posts from November 14, 2020, through November 14, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. We included posts from women aged ≥18 years who self-identified or described experiencing IPV and requested advice or help in this subreddit community. Posts from nonabused women and women aged <18 years, non-English posts, good news announcements, gratitude posts without any advice seeking, and posts related to advertisements were excluded. We developed a codebook and annotated the postings in an iterative manner. Initial posts were also quantified using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count to categorize linguistic and posting features. Postings were then classified into 2 categories (ie, matched needs and unmatched needs) according to the types of help sought and received in OHCs to capture the help-seeking result. Nonparametric statistical analysis (ie, 2-tailed t test or Mann-Whitney U test) was used to compare the linguistic and posting features between matched and unmatched needs.

Overall, 250 postings were included, and 200 (80%) posting response comments matched with the type of help requested in initial postings, with legal advice and IPV knowledge achieving the highest matching rate. Overall, 17 linguistic or posting features were found to be significantly different between the 2 groups (ie, matched help and unmatched help). Positive title sentiment and linguistic features in postings containing health and wellness wordings were associated with unmatched needs postings, whereas the other 14 features were associated with postings with matched needs.

OHCs can extract the linguistic and posting features to understand the help-seeking result among women with IPV experiences. Features identified in this corpus reflected the differences found between the 2 groups. This is the first study that leveraged Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count to shed light on generating predictive features from unstructured text in OHCs, which could guide future algorithm development to detect help-seeking results within OHCs effectively.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2023


  • intimate partner violence
  • text mining
  • social media
  • online health communities
  • linguistic features


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