Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Loel Kim

Committee Member

Elizabeth Lane

Committee Member

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Amanda Young


The growth of the Internet has allowed users to gather in online spaces to share thought processes and information about any number of topics, and mothers in particular have found value in these communities as they seek to navigate the rough waters of motherhood. The aim of this research is to examine three message board forum threads at Cafemom.com where mothers gather to discuss two specific health care concerns for their pre-adolescent and adolescent children: human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and weight management. In an attempt to understand how mothers gather in these spaces to discuss these important pre-adolescent and adolescent health issues among themselves, I utilized computer-mediated discourse analysis to identify the forums as a community of information sharing and template analysis to identify themes relating to these specific health concerns. I focused on how mothers expressed their understanding of the complexities of HPV vaccination and weight management, how they shared their information with one another in an online message board setting, how they framed their posts in possibilistic and probabilistic frameworks, and how they established credibility among themselves. Next, within the structures of template analysis, I identified six Major Themes: impetus for discussion; framework for discussion; decision making statements; issues of knowledge; issues of agency; and power roles. The themes identified from three threads posted on CafeMom indicate three characteristics of note: (1) there is a gap in knowledge for many of these decision-makers that must be bridged if effective health care decisions are to be made, regardless of what that decision ultimately is, (2) the health community at large needs to deepen its understanding of how parents, mothers in particular, share health information about their children in unmonitored online settings, and (3) the health community needs to equip parents and patients to understand how to interpret information given by different sources and introduce basic statistical numeracy to allow for better understanding of measures involving percentiles of populations and other statistical information. It is through the organically created online conversations among mothers that these issues can continue to be explored and expanded to include other health care concerns.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest