Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information Studies



First Advisor

Dr. Timothy L. Sellnow

Second Advisor

Dr. Chike Anyaegbunam


The experience of a pelvic exam or Pap smear is something that, while necessary to maintain reproductive health, can be fraught with difficulty for women. Ouj, Igberase, Exe, and Ejikeme (2011) note that “[m]ost women feel a level of discomfort or pain and for some it is embarrassing, dehumanizing, degrading and associated with fear, anxiety and apprehension” (p. 637). However, little recent research has focused on the specific communication surrounding reproductive care for young women. The Internet is a common place for young people to seek health information, understand their own health risks, and seek social support from others. The current study utilizes information gleaned from the archives of an internet message board and sexual education website to examine the way that young women communicate about reproductive health care, risk, and social support with experts and peers in the online community. Results indicate that young women request, seek, and receive several different types of social support in the online community. Further, themes illuminate the complex nature of women’s concerns about potential risk and reproductive care.

Included in

Communication Commons