Support through patient internet-communities: Lived experience of Russian in vitro fertilization patients
The article is concerned with the life experiences of infertile women going through infertility treatment and their need for social and psychological support, which they try to find in their immediate social environment. The Internet has become one place where everyone can find ‘‘people like oneself.’’ The best support is received from these people who are in the same life situation and are able and willing to share their lived experiences with each other. Communication via the Internet and the formation of a virtual community of patients has both positive and negative aspects, all of which are examined in the article. On the one hand, it creates a psychologically favorable atmosphere and might potentially increase the success rate of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment. On the other, this leads to the seclusion of patients within the circle of ‘‘similar people’’ and sometimes to negative attitudes towards people outside the circle. The article is based on the author’s ‘‘netnography’’ research of a virtual community of Russian IVF1 patients.