Title

Uses and Gratifications of Online Guestbooks: A Study of CaringBridge

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

This study investigated how online care pages help people connect with others and gain social support during a health care event. It reports the results of a survey of 1035 CaringBridge authors who set up personalized web pages because of hospitalization, serious illness, or other reasons, regarding the uses and gratifications obtained from their sites. Four primary benefits were found to be important to all authors of CaringBridge sites: providing information, receiving encouragement from messages, convenience, and psychological support. Hierarchical multiple regression revealed significant effects for six demographic and health-related variables: gender, age, religiosity, Internet usage, the purpose for which the site was set up, and sufficiency of information received from health care providers. Support was obtained for the perspective that online care pages provide new media gratifications for authors, and that health-related antecedents of media use may affect media selection and gratifications. The implications of this study forCommunication researchers and support services like CaringBridge are also discussed.