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Internet use for family carers of people with intellectual disabilities: A literature review and thematic synthesis

Caton, Sue and Koivunen, Emma-Reetta and Allison, Callum (2019) Internet use for family carers of people with intellectual disabilities: A literature review and thematic synthesis. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 23 (3). pp. 446-468. ISSN 1744-6295

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Abstract

Being a family carer can be rewarding but can also lead to mental and physical exhaustion as well as feelings of social exclusion and isolation. Research has shown that the use of the Internet and online forums can provide an immediate place to find information and reassurance and that forum use can be an empathetic place to share experiences and seek emotional support. This article details a systematic literature search of research on carers of people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism using the Internet. A thematic synthesis of the resulting papers identified that online forums give carers a sense of agency by providing a place to go for informational support that may not be elsewhere. Carers also enjoyed the safe community of solidarity and emotional support that online forums provide. An important finding is the lack of published papers in this area with the inclusion of just eight papers.

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