Frameworks in research

My new research is an exploratory study. I’m now in the process of reviewing the literature in a variety of different areas. In doing so, I have happened across a review study that presents what could be used as a framework for my inquiry into what people learn from breast cancer blogs.

Of course, as with all frameworks, it only looks at the problem from one aspect – the ways in which peer-to-peer connections affect health.

We identified seven domains through which online patients’ experiences could affect health. Each has the potential for positive and negative impacts. Five of the identified domains (finding information, feeling supported, maintaining relationships with others, affecting behavior, and experiencing health services) are relatively well rehearsed, while two (learning to tell the story and visualizing disease) are less acknowledged but important features of online resources. (Ziebland & Wyke, 2012, p.219)

My research is a little broader, in that I’m exploring what learning occurs as a result of breast cancer blogs. I’m not just looking at the health aspect of the narrative. I also want to explore the different learning that occurs – whether or not breast cancer blogs help to empower women to advocate for themselves?

That being said, I do wonder if there is some use for this framework. Perhaps it will be something that I look at when I have all my data – perhaps these categories might be ones that emerge through my research? Perhaps these categories might be useful for the first layer of coding?

As an auto/ethnographer and storycatcher, I seek to explore the stories of those who read breast cancer blogs. Who are they? What do they learn from reading the blogs? At the same time, I am also exploring my own learning from the blogging process. What did I learn about myself as a result of writing the blog? What did I learn when I was finally able to read other blogs? What keeps me reading them? In many ways, I am an insider. And yet, I also want to hear from the people who are readers of blogs and not necessarily writers.

My question for you, do I need a framework to begin my exploration of learning from breast cancer blogs? Would a framework help or hinder the explorations?

Reference

Ziebland, S., & Wyke, S. (2012). Health and illness in a connected world: how might sharing experiences on the internet affect people’s health. Milbank Quarterly, 90(2), 219-249. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3460203

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