Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Health Communication 11:2 (1999), pp. 123–151.

doi: 10.1207/s15327027hc1102_2


Copyright © 1999 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.; published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


This study documented the types and extent of social support messages exchanged by persons with disabilities who participated in a computer-based support group. A modified version of Cutrona and Suhr’s (1992) social support category system was used to code 1,472 support messages. The largest percentage of these messages offered emotional and informational support, whereas network support and tangible assistance were least frequently offered. It appeared that many of the support messages directly redressed limitations and challenges associated with disability-related mobility, socialization, and self-care. Results are discussed in terms of the generalizability of existing category systems for coding support to this mediated context, the relative importance of different types of support in the communication of support group members, and the unique features of social support in mediated environments. The implications of this study for social support researchers, persons with disabilities, and human services professionals are also discussed.