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"You will be glad you hung on to this quit": Sharing information and giving support when stopping smoking online

Publikationsart Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Buchbeitrag (peer-reviewed)
Publikationsdatum 2015
Autor/in Rudolf von Rohr Marie-Thérèse,
Projekt Language and health online
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Buchbeitrag (peer-reviewed)

Buch Meeting Health Information Needs Outside of Healthcare: Opportunities and Challenges
Herausgeber/in , Smith C.A.; Keselman A.
Verlag Chandos/Elsevier, Waltham MA:
Seite(n) 263 - 290
ISBN 978-0-08-100248-3
Titel der Proceedings Meeting Health Information Needs Outside of Healthcare: Opportunities and Challenges


This linguistic study investigates information exchange in a smoking cessation forum in view of persuasion based on a small corpus of threads. Fellow quitters share information about how to best deal with the quit smoking journey, they encourage each other to persevere in quitting and give each other advice on medication or coping with withdrawal symptoms. According to interpersonal pragmatics, these interactions always feature both, informational and relational aspects. It is thus of interest how participants share information in online settings, e.g. what kind of speech acts participants use to convey information and how participants show their authenticity or expertise through language. The content structure of messages was determined by categorizing entire messages of threads into discursive moves, i.e. what a passage contributes to ongoing interaction (Locher & Limberg, 2012). Results illustrate that sharing information happens in a certain order on threads, in which there are clear communicative expectations of help-seekers and advice-givers. In view of the help-giving purpose of the forum, sharing personalised information in the form of advice and assessment was preferred. Advice-giving can serve to reinforce help-seekers’ determination but is also used to provide specific instructions for action. When assessing, participants normalize concerns through the use of will-future, reassure with present continuous do and praise efforts. While help-givers legitimize advice and assessment by referring to their own experience, help-seekers show their authenticity by describing withdrawal symptoms and how they are coping. These findings highlight that sharing information and giving support were inextricably linked since the declared persuasive purpose of wanting to affect each other’s quitting journey meant that, ultimately, any information or advice aimed at reinforcing help-seekers’ determination. Keywords: information; support; health; online; discourse analysis.