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Keywords:

  • online social support;
  • online sense of community;
  • well-being;
  • physical disability;
  • Internet

Abstract

People with a physical disability are a population who for a number of reasons may be vulnerable to social isolation. Research into Internet-based support sites has found that social support and an online sense of community can be developed through computer mediated communication channels. This study aims to gain an understanding of the benefits that membership of disability-specific online communities may have for people with a physical disability. An online survey was administered to a sample of users of such sites (N = 160). Results indicated that users did receive moral support and personal advice through participating in such online communities. Further, results indicated that online social support and feeling a sense of community online were positively associated with participants' well-being in the areas of personal relations and personal growth. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.