Why People Are Willing to Provide Social Support in Online Health Communities: Evidence from Social Exchange Perspective

  • Tongyao ZhaoEmail author
  • Rong Du
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10983)


More and more people in china are increasingly using Internet as a major source of health-related information in recent years. Online healthcare communities (OHCs) are interesting in this regard, appearing to serve as virtual communities for people to provide social support. However, the development of OHCs requires the active participation of its members to create and share knowledge. How to improve community members’ provision of social support becomes a key issue for community managers. To address this issue, utilizing social exchange theory, we propose a benefit-cost model to study the incentive factors and inhibiting factors of the social support in OHCs. In the model, the benefits are extended to the psychological rewards in social exchange, including sense of belongings, reputation and sense of self-worth. Costs are divided into cognitive costs and executional costs. We study the moderation effect of psychological distance. Data will be collected from more than 300 users of well-known OHCs in China and analyzed by SmartPLS. The research findings can provide managerial implications for community managers.


Online healthcare community (OHC) Social exchange theory Psychological distance Social support 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Xidian UniversityXi’anChina

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