The rise and fall of 'girlsdrinkdiaries.com': dilemmas and opportunities when creating online forums to investigate health behaviour.
This paper explores the potential dilemmas and opportunities for setting up online discussion forums when undertaking research on health-related behaviour. It draws on the setting up of a website called 'girlsdrinkdiaries.com' which sought to understand young women's relationship(s) with alcohol and their feelings about drinking and drunkenness. I reflect on how the use of virtual space may allow for more liberated and 'free' talk about sensitive topics in health, yet at the same time may create a voyeuristic and potentially abusive environment. In doing so, I explore the ultimate demise of the website and therefore the potential problems of utilising online methods. I suggest that researchers need to carefully mitigate and negotiate harm when considering such methods, whilst also acknowledging how participants themselves resist and negotiate risk in virtual places.