External Information Sharing on Health Forums: An Exploration
Online health forums are an important avenue for receiving support and learning about fellow patients' experiences with similar diagnoses. We seek to characterize the external information shared (via web links) on health forums as a proxy to participants' information needs. For this purpose, using a dataset of web links shared publicly on a lung cancer forum over a period of 16 years, we perform a comparative analysis with three different website typologies, uncovering a diverse ecosystem of websites. We also examine typological variations as this forum gains and then loses popularity over time.