Date of Award

Fall 8-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science in Information Systems


Business and Information Systems

First Advisor

Jun Liu

Second Advisor

Insu Park

Fourth Advisor

Dorine Bennett


As one of the most promising health-related social media services, the online health communities (OHCs) have been developed and exponentially increased in the past decade. Patients can benefit from the participation of OHC discussions by obtaining information and knowledge, receiving support and releasing mental stress. The purpose of this study is to identify factors that affect the users’ continuance participation and to examine their different influences in the short-term and long-term stages survival and activeness in the OHCs. We conducted two separate studies to investigate users’ continuance participation in terms of survival time and activeness. Our research makes two major contributions. First, we identify the factors that determine users’ short-term vs. long-term survival. Specifically, we propose a new construct, the initial goal, to social support theory. Results show that the information seeking goal and the emotional seeking goal will drive users into different stages of their membership life cycle. Additionally, the appropriate self-interaction discussion pattern has a positive impact on users’ long-term survival. Second, we identify the factors that lead to users’ short-term and long-term activeness. Our study compares the users’ participation behavior during the different stages and predicts their post-stage activeness based on expectation-confirmation theory. Our findings show that the social support and recognition in the initial stage play important roles in the short-term activeness, whereas the social attachment in the short-term stage increases its impact on the long-term activeness.