My name is Meryl. I'm a medical anthropologist at Boston University Medical Center, and I'm doing research on how people use the internet to help them manage their health. I chose VP for this project because I believe the internet helps people gain agency and become empowered with knowledge about their own bodies, and I can't think of a community that better exemplifies those beliefs.
I'd like to ask you to fill out a little anonymous survey to help me with this project. It's mainly about your use of VP and how you combine the internet with other methods to take care of yourself. It's not a very long survey, and I hope it won't take you more than 15 minutes to complete- quite possibly much less. If you want to, you can also participate in an extra email or phone interview, but that part is totally optional. You need to be 13 or over to participate in the survey, and 18 or older to be interviewed.
This research study has been approved and sponsored by the Boston University School of Medicine. I also asked permission from VP's moderators before I began to develop the study, and they have given me the go-ahead to do so. Additionally, they've been able to look at and approve my survey questions.
To participate in this survey, you must be age 13 or older. To participate in the optional interview, you must be age 18 or older.
Although the moderators have given permission for the researcher to ask the community to participate in this study, participation is totally voluntary, and nobody else in the community will ever know whether you decide to participate or not.
This study will take place in two parts. First, there is an anonymous online survey. It should take about 10-15 minutes to complete. Second, if you wish, you can opt to take part in a short, secondary interview via email (or phone if you prefer). You can fill out the survey without volunteering to be interviewed.
The survey will ask participants some short questions about how they use VaginaPagina, what types of issues they have asked for help with, how they make decisions on medical issues, whether they use Internet care as a substitute or an addition to going to a doctor, and whether Internet use has changed the way they handle health and wellness issues.
If you would like to participate, you must be a member of VaginaPagina. It doesn’t matter if you never post or comment, as long as you are a community member, you are eligible! Lurkers, active members, and anybody in between are welcome. You don't need to be from the US - VP members from all over the world are invited to participate.
The survey won’t ask you any questions about who you are other than some general demographic information (like your age and whether you have health insurance). It won’t ask you your name or your Livejournal username. Your survey will be totally anonymous and there won’t be any way to trace your responses back to you.
If you’d like to participate in an interview, you’ll be given an option to submit your email address, but you can sign up for a disposable one if you don’t want to use your real one. Either way, as soon as the interview is over, your email address will be removed from your responses and your information will be identified by a random number. If you’d like to do a phone interview instead, you can choose a pseudonym so the researcher won’t know your real name.
This study is completely anonymous and confidential. If you find any questions uncomfortable, or you simply don't have an answer, you don’t need to answer them. You can also choose to exit the survey at any time and discard any responses you’ve provided.
The study will remain open until the end of August and the investigator will post periodic reminders in the community.
So if you'd like to take the survey, just click here or go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/vp .
If you have any questions at all, I'd love to answer them. At the request of the medical ethics board, it would be preferable if you sent me a PM instead of commenting here - nobody besides you is to know whether you decide to participate, and to comply with VP's rules I can't screen comments. However, if you don't care that others know you are participating, commenting here with questions is still fine. I will edit this post as necessary to provide answers to things that are asked.
Thanks so much. I'm really grateful to all participants, and really to all the members of this community. I'm a member myself with my regular LJ, and I know it's helped me. I hope through this research I can discover how it's helped you, too.