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Exploring Anti-Depressant Medication Use: Using Postings to an Internet Medical Discussion Board

Case
By: Jennifer Davis-Berman & Frances G. Pestello Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

In this case study, we describe a research project that focused on the subjective experiences of people taking anti-depressant medications. As securing respondents for this type of sensitive research is difficult due to confidentiality concerns and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations, we examined creative locations where accessible discussions of medications might take place. Certain online platforms are considered public access, and memberships are only required to respond, not to read postings. Anyone who uses these sites is informed that they are open to public consumption. Using a WebMD online message board as our data collection site, we sampled 227 postings that people made about their experiences with five of the most commonly used anti-depressant medications. Details regarding our sampling procedure, data collection, and findings are presented in this case study. We also discuss lessons learned and the limitations of this type of research method.

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