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Online self-help forums on cannabis: A content assessment.

ABSTRACT

To investigate online self-help forums related to cannabis users who were searching for help on the Internet.We analyzed the content of 717 postings by 328 users in three online forums in terms of fields of interest and self-help mechanisms. Only English-language forums that were free of charge and without registration were investigated.The main self-help mechanisms were disclosure and symptoms, with relatively few posts concerning legal issues and social perceptions. The forums differed significantly in all fields of interest and self-help mechanisms except for social network and financial and vocational issues. Highly involved users more commonly posted on topics related to diagnosis, etiology/research, and provision of information and less commonly on those related to gratitude. Correlation analysis showed a moderate negative correlation between emotional support and illness-related aspects and between emotional support and exchange of information.Cannabis forums share similarities with other mental health forums. Posts differ according to user involvement and the specific orientation of the forum.The Internet offers a viable source of self-help and social support for cannabis users, which has potential clinical implications in terms of referring clients to specific forums.