Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-20-2011


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Sociology, Under the Supervision of Professor Julia McQuillan. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2011
Copyright 2011 Kathleen Slauson-Blevins


This dissertation uses data from the National Survey of Fertility Barriers (NSFB), a nationally representative sample, to assess factors associated with face-to-face and internet help seeking (study 1) and perceived social support (study 2). In study one, I examine whether the General Help Seeking Model, a theory that has been used to explain in-person help seeking, generalizes to internet help seeking. I assess four types of help seeking: (1) no help seeking, (2) only internet help seeking, (3)only medical help seeking, and (4) both online and medical help seeking. Results suggest that online help seeking is differentiated from in person help seeking by attitudes towards medical science, infertility stigma, age, income, and educational attainment. In study two I explore whether the type of help seeking that individuals engage in and the types of activities that people do online are associated with perceived social support. Perceived social support does not differ by type of help seeking, nor are the types of online activities associated with perceptions of social support. Finally, I provide descriptive information on patterns of infertility help seeking on the internet – information that is important as the use of the internet for health related activities continues to grow. I show that use of the internet varies by several individual and social characteristics.