Online discussion groups for bulimia nervosa: An inductive approach to Internet-based communication between patients




Online discussion forums are often used by people with eating disorders.


This study analyses 2,072 threads containing a total of 14,903 postings from an unmoderated German “prorecovery” forum for persons suffering from bulimia nervosa ( during the period from October 2004 to May 2006. The threads were inductively analyzed for underlying structural types, and the various types found were then analyzed for differences in temporal and quantitative parameters.


Communication in the online discussion forum occurred in three types of thread: (1) problem-oriented threads (78.8% of threads), (2) communication-oriented threads (15.3% of threads), and (3) metacommunication threads (2.6% of threads). Metacommunication threads contained significantly more postings than problem-oriented and communication-oriented threads, and they were viewed significantly more often. Moreover, there are temporal differences between the structural types.


Topics relating to active management of the disorder receive great attention in prorecovery forums. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008