Communicating the Experience of Chronic Illness Through Blogging

What does blogging have to do with communicating the experience of illness?  Quite a bit.  I have been exploring the intersection between narrative medicine, coping with illness, and blogging for my research in the Pain Research, Education and Policy Program at Tufts School of Medicine.  Blogging creates a unique and accessible way for individuals who are isolated with chronic illness to be able to express and communicate their experience beyond the medical diagnosis. It provides a way for patients to tell their story and begin to make meaning out of what has happened to them, in real time. 

I recently was interviewed by Helen Osborne, Health Literacy Out Loud, about my research on use of tools of blogging and social media in health care. If you are interested in hearing more about communicating the experience of chronic illness through blogging, I hope you will listen to my podcast with Helen by clicking here.

Technology and Resilence

When friends and colleagues hear that I teach mindfulness and resiliency skills AND that I am actively engaged in social media in health care, they often scratch their heads in confusion. Mindfulness and building resiliency are thought to be at odds with our increasingly 24/7 digital society. Let me say, I agree. But resiliency is the ability to bounce back from adversity, and often requires creative solutions to do so. While I see challenges of over saturation with information and a frantic pace of living associated with 24/7 technology, I also see wonderful opportunities for increased connection, communication, as well as decreased isolation especially by vulnerable members of our society. One of the manifestations of increased technology is its ability to narrow the divide between those with chronic illness and those without. Helping to normalize interactions and social connection in ways that were once unimaginable are now possible for the cost of an iPad...and that is resilience!

Click here to read the NY Times article that inspired me to write this post. I would love to hear your thoughts and welcome your comments.

Request for Research Help from Health Bloggers

Do you or does someone you know blog about their chronic illness? Lisa Gualtieri, PhD and I are interested in the motivation of why people choose to start and maintain a health blog for a research survey we are conducting. Can you help us out by answering the questions below or forwarding them on to health bloggers you may know? We appreciate any help you can provide us! Feel free to send emails directly to us at: or or post your answers in the comment section below.

We are researching why people choose to start and maintain a blog about a health condistion and would appreciate your answers to these questions:

When and why did you start your blog?

What do you see at the primary reason(s) you continue blogging?

How often do you typically post?

What types of feedback do you receive? How many comments do you typically get to each post?

Do you know how many unique visitors you have during a particular time period (say 2009)?

Do you do anything to promote your blog or attract new readers?

Do you use your real name in your blog?

Do you read other blogs by people with health issues and, if so, which and why?

Have you shown your blog to your doctor or other healthcare professional?