Therapeutic utilization of meditation resources by people with multiple sclerosis: insights from an online patient discussion forum Academic Article uri icon


  • We aimed to describe website traffic and qualitatively analyze an e-health community discussion forum. Participants in this study were people affected by multiple sclerosis visiting the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (OMS) website. This mixed methods study combined descriptive analysis of website traffic over 7 years and 1 month, and qualitative analysis of 1 week of posts in the meditation topic, coded into theme groups using qualitative thematic analysis. There were 166 meditation topics posted with 21,530 initial views of primary post and 785 sub-post responses. Meditation posts and sub-posts received 368,713 replies. Number of views increased from 4,684 in 2011 to over 80,000 in 2017, a considerably greater rate of increase than overall traffic. Qualitative analysis of posts on the meditation forum identified themes of barriers and enablers to utilization of meditation resources. Enablement themes dominated, observed across six of the seven theme groups with various forms of positive social and emotional support to learn and practice meditation. One theme, negative emotion, was identified as a barrier. The OMS peer-to-peer patient online discussion forum serves important functions in encouraging, educating and enabling its growing online community. Our analysis may help improve and innovate online support for lifestyle management in many chronic diseases.

publication date

  • October 2020