Theses Doctoral

Investigating and Supporting Sensemaking within Online Health Communities

Nakikj, Drashko

This dissertation focuses on understanding and supporting individual and collective sensemaking within online health communities (OHCs). This major goal was achieved in three aims. In Aim 1, this dissertation contributes a rich descriptive account of collective sensemaking in OHCs forums by describing how it occurs and develops, what triggers it, what elements constitute collective construction of meaning, and what conversational moves positively contribute to this process. Further, it describes how collective sensemaking in OHCs is impacted by the interplay between informational and socio-emotional needs of OHCs members. Moreover, it examines how design of different social computing platforms influences OHCs members’ ability to meet their informational and socio-emotional needs and engage in collective sensemaking. In Aim 2, this dissertation explores the design space of tools for supporting individual sensemaking through optimized information access. Through the design and evaluation of a prototype DisVis it examines the impact of such tools on OHCs members’ ability to understand information within discussion threads. In the final Aim 3, this dissertation proposes a novel approach for meeting the three main needs identified in Aims 1 and 2: promoting individual sensemaking, while at the same time encouraging collective sensemaking, and facilitating development of social awareness and ties among community members. The design and evaluation of the novel solution for visualizing discussion threads that synergistically addresses these three needs—dSense—provides insights for future research and design of interactive solutions for supporting individual and collective sensemaking within OHCs.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Biomedical Informatics
Thesis Advisors
Mamykina, Lena
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 22, 2019