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Research into the impact of cyber victimisation

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A project around cyber victimisation, which is part of The Open University's (OU) Open Societal Challenges themes around Tackling Inequalities and Living Well, has had findings published.

Dr Zhraa Alhaboby, academic in health sciences at The Open University (OU), has published research highlighting the scale and impact of cyber victimisation on those living with long-term conditions or disabilities.

The research, Cybervictimization of Adults with Long-term Conditions, published in JMIR Publications, examined the scope of cyber-victimisation among adults living with long-term conditions in the UK and the perceived impact on the self-management of chronic conditions. Data from 152 participants showed that almost one in every two adults with chronic conditions in this sample was cyber-victimised (45.4%). Most victims (76.8%) were disabled, and the relationship between cyber-victimisation and disability was statistically significant.

Dr Alhaboby, academic in health sciences and researcher in public health at the OU and author of the study has worked on projects related to cyber-victimisation and chronic conditions, disability discrimination and cyber-hate, chronic disease management, and using innovative technologies in healthcare. Her research has provided evidence to support policy change and recommendations for law reforms in the UK.

Dr Alhaboby explained the significant impact that online abuse could have:

“For us to understand cyber-victimisation experiences we must acknowledge that what happens online is real, and the impact is real. It does not stop if you switch off your phone or computer. The urgency to check the messages does not help either. For a person who is living with a chronic condition, the distress from such experiences can result in poor health outcomes. We have seen this with persons with diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease and thyroid disease”

Read the paper: Cybervictimization of Adults with Long-term Conditions

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A version of this story, written by Laura Bandell, originally appeared on OU News.

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