Therapeutic Factors in an Online Support Community: a Qualitative Analysis of Online Fora Discussions for those Coping with Botox Side-Effects

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Cachay, Susan
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Botox, derived from botulism toxin, can migrate from an injection site and cause neurological symptoms in some users, including pain, numbness, loss of muscle control, migraine, speech problems, cognitive issues, and vision disturbances. Yet those who suffer from side effects often find it hard to find others with similar struggles. This study analyzed communications in online fora concerning suffering from Botox side effects in order to gain insight into therapeutic potential for group support in these unregulated spaces. Fora did serve those with chronic health issues because they were accessible at home and because they offered connection between users who found few other sufferers in their everyday environments. Using 15 online communities, the study used grounded theory to show side-effects sufferers could reap the benefits of several therapeutic factors acknowledged to improve wellbeing in group therapy: instillation of hope, universality, imparting information, socializing technique development, interpersonal learning, and catharsis. Elements missing from online fora included corrective reimagining of the family group, group cohesiveness, and existential factors.