If you run a healthcare support group online (be that a message board, forum, IRC, etc…) and are wondering about jumping into virtual worlds, I hope the following paper is helpful.
If you are running a face to face healthcare support group and wonder about doing so in a virtual world, this paper may also be helpful. However, there are some general things about online support I do not address.
If you are looking for an introduction to the basics of Second Life, this is really not the paper for you. But if you want to know how groups function without going into Second Life, this paper may be a good start.
Healthcare Support Groups in Online Virtual Worlds (Oct, 2009 v.5, 15 page pdf)
If you have suggestions for this paper, please drop me a line, or add your comment below. I’ve released this under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license and only want it to make it as useful as possible.
**Update Oct 1, 2009-
Added note about GreenLife’s viewer “Emerald” with chat encryption.
**Update Jan 6, 2008-
Added new Linden Lab group features, link to case study, top issues, and more-
**Update Oct, 2007-
Thanks for all the suggestions. I’ve included some at this time, including a list of the 16 most popular healthcare support groups.