Why Isn’t Online Peer Support Encouraged?

I first ventured online a year ago, shortly after I started this blog. I didn’t really know what was out there. I didn’t even think that there was anything out there where diabetes was concerned.

Even today, the size of this online community continues to amaze me. There are blogs, there are podcasts, there are news sites, there are friendly Facebook groups, there are the TuDiabetes forums filled with lively discussion, there are Tumblr pages filled with gifs and humour, and there are Twitter support chats.

It’s fair to say that my experience in online diabetes support has surpassed my expectations.

Online peer support has changed the way I live with, and view diabetes. It’s empowered me. It’s given me a voice for my diabetes. It’s given me a lot of confidence in the way that I live with, and manage my diabetes in real life. It’s given me a space to connect and to share with other people who are going through exactly what I deal with each and every day. It has empowered me to challenge myself, and to seek out alternative tools that will better help me to manage my diabetes. I seriously doubt I would have even considered an insulin pump if it weren’t for this sense of empowerment, and support from DOC connections.

One online peer support space that I truly champion here in Australia is the Oz Diabetes Online Community. If you follow the hashtag #OzDOC on Twitter every Tuesday night (that’s tonight) at 8.30pm AEDT (GMT+11), you’ll find a group of us sharing answers around a topic related to life with diabetes for one hour. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, it almost seems as though we know each other in real life! I’ve joined in almost every Tuesday since I found it. It’s both thought provoking and supportive at the same time. All you need is a Twitter account, and you don’t have to use it for anything else if you don’t want to! You can lurk until you are comfortable to join in, and nobody will be any wiser.

I don’t know many people with diabetes in real life, so online peer support has certainly helped me to feel less alone with my diabetes. It’s just a shame that it took five years of life with diabetes to finally seek this community out. Nobody told me about it. Nobody encouraged me to do it. I just somehow stumbled upon it one day.

In all honesty, I’d love to see online peer support groups encouraged by healthcare professionals. I’d love to feel more comfortable talking about it, without worrying about receiving funny looks in return. I’d love to see posters hanging up in clinics and offices, and for diabetes professionals to suggest it to their patients. I’d love to see more open minded Australian healthcare professionals join in our social media activity.

On that note, I am going to make it my mission to plug the OzDOC community a little harder this year. I’ve joined a team of moderators who are bringing some fantastic topic ideas to the table for chats in the weeks to come. I’m going to plug it a little more in my blog posts and social media on Tuesdays. I’ve even snuck some posters into the waiting room at my Diabetes Clinic. I hope you can join us tonight.

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4 thoughts on “Why Isn’t Online Peer Support Encouraged?

  1. Frank:

    I know in the US a few doctors are doing small things to offer online participation. I know at my doctor they will now place a few vetted web site references in the lobby and a couple of lists of local online groups. On the other hand, I cannot get a meeting with the local diabetes educators because, they do not support online groups. pssst.

    I want you to know I referred your blog to the TUdiabetes web site for the week of March 7, 2016.

  2. This is just a personal experience but i was very distressed to find out a so called DOC (not Oz Doc), whom advertised as a “professional” site breached confidentiality by way of providing a post i submitted, to a doctor whom i had reported serious allegations about, this was then used to discredit me via way of saying i had a mental impairment. I was proven not to have any mental impairment and a full investigation proceeded about the doctor. No name was ever mentioned but the doctor involved contacted her and just askded for the post with no validation or reason, she willingly without any attempt to validate my facts (remember no one was identified in the post), handed it over. When i challenged the administrator of this site, her answer was “i don’t want to get involved”! If this takes place on these endorsed sites, when blatant irregularitys are reported and apart from obviously feeding everything back to the person involved nothing is done, you become very wary of trusting DOC’s. I would like to add i have kept the evidence and the letter by the so called professional that assisted in what can only be described as predatory conduct. I think the open DOC is fantastic, but if these so called professional sites wish to advertise as such, then some regulation and monitoring needs to be in place, as for the other communities, great to see such free speech and a diverse range of sites for diabetics to talk openly but the distinction between “professional” and “community” needs to be well delineated and more rigorously monitored.

  3. I would like to add i do not support online counselling sites, on this occasion it is good to know CDE’s are well within their right and as far as i am concerned justified in not supporting online counselling sites.

  4. It sounds amazing l enjoy reading your blog as it is easy to talk to someone who understands what l am experiencing. Might have to get online. Good luck with it and keep blogging and tweeting.
    Cindy

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