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A Qualitative Analysis of an Online Forum to Understand How Young People Use This Platform for Mental Health Support

Case
By: Julie Prescott, & Katalin Ujhelyi Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

This case study is based on the research conducted by the authors in partnership with Kooth, a U.K.-based online counseling provider. Kooth provides a range of services for young people aged 11-25, including static and live online forums that allow young people to discuss issues around mental health. To gain an understanding of how young people engage with these online forums, and to gain an insight into how the forums provide peer-to-peer support for young people, a qualitative research project was devised. This case study provides readers with an overview of the project before moving on to consider a number of methodological and ethical issues. Considerations of the methodological approach undertaken in this research include working with external organizations, the challenges of completing a qualitative project online, conducting thematic analysis on transcripts of forum data, and using NVivo software for qualitative analysis. Furthermore, this chapter reflects upon broader issues such as the quality control of online qualitative research, the benefits and challenges of online forums for research purposes, including using real-world data in research, and the ethical considerations of using online forums and how these can differ to more traditional offline qualitative research. This case study then provides the readers with a brief critical discussion of the implications of the research and some final reflections from the research team regarding the completion of this phase of the study.

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