Exploring how people affected by methamphetamine exchange social support through online interactions on Facebook: Content analysis

Daniel Ellway, Rachel Reilly, Amanda Le Couteur, James Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Methamphetamine is an illicit and addictive psychostimulant that remains to be a significant cause of economic burden in Australia. Social media is increasingly being used by nongovernment organizations and health services to encourage the growth of social support networks among people with health-related issues. Several studies have investigated the utility of social media in providing social support to groups of people with health-related issues. However, limited research exists that explores how people who have been directly or indirectly affected by methamphetamine use social media for social support. Objective: This study aimed to determine the types of social support being sought and provided by people affected by methamphetamine when interacting with others on a Facebook page. Methods: A total of 14,777 posts were collected from a Facebook page and transferred into an Excel document for content analysis. The posts were manually coded into categories of social support using an adapted version of Cutrona and Suhr’s Social Support Behavior Code. Posts could be coded into more than one category. Saturation was reached at 2000 posts, which were used to draw inferences. Results: Emotional support was the most offered support type, with 42.05% (841/2000) of posts providing this form of support. This is followed by esteem support, which was provided in 40.40% (808/2000) of posts. Overall, 24.20% (484/2000) of posts offered informational support. Network support and tangible support were the least offered support types, with 2.25% (45/2000) and 1.70% (34/2000) of posts offering these types of support, respectively. Conclusions: This study suggests that online social support groups can be effective in challenging stigma by encouraging people affected by methamphetamine to connect with each other and talk about their struggles. This in turn represents an important step toward successful rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14011
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Methamphetamine
  • Social media
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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