Our Online Community for people with arthritis

Versus Arthritis provides peer to peer support on an online community for people with arthritis over 18 years old to chat about issues that affect them, and to exchange and request information from us and each other.  It is a safe space for when they are unable to talk to family and friends about the persistent problems that arthritis brings; we’re there and we understand.

From when we started, we now have nearly 16,000 registered members, and about 600 are active every month.  People come back when they need support.  Members view about 28,000 pages each month on the Community, and another 50,000 pages are viewed by unregistered guests.

On the Community, members can swap information about how they cope with arthritis every day and how they overcome their challenges.  Often, when first diagnosed, an arthritis sufferer can feel isolated, alone and wondering “Why me?”.  They can only see that their life is not going to be the same, and they know there is no cure.  Many feel depressed and feel they have no one to talk to.  Then they join the Community and find a whole group of like-minded people who know what it’s like; people who support each other and are ready to share their experiences and give tips on how they manage their condition. Our members take comfort in this.

Many people join us to find out from others if their symptoms are unusual or common, or what side-effects may be expected from treatments.  This can be incredibly useful – the community is a great place to gather vital information and opinions.  When members ask specific medical questions, moderators may refer them to specific articles on the VA website, but we never offer any medical opinion and ensure that others don’t either; we encourage them to seek medical advice. 

The Community is moderated by a wonderful team of volunteers, who walk the sometimes-difficult line between censorship and allowing free exchange of views. They read every post; someone who’s a member can just post (and we still read it) while a guest will have their post reviewed before it appears on the site – for example, to check that they’re not an advertiser in disguise as the site is a target for advertisers - moderators aim to remove advertising, ensure sensible advice and try to link up members with similar problems.

Like most communities, it self-polices. We know many members will advocate eating certain foods and using certain aids, and those posts are fine because it’s their opinion and can easily be recognised as such – but links to sites offering “cures” or similar are removed.   One of the most important things that our moderators do is make sure that every member receives a warm welcome, and relevant information about their arthritis.

The Community has grown massively, and we have a regular influx of about 300 extra members every month.  Unsurprisingly, many people seek us out when they’re first diagnosed, or when they have a crisis, but many stick with us because they find that arthritis so dominates their life that they need to share how they feel and how to cope.  It’s a valuable Community that we hope more people will get to know about.

Please consider signposting your patients to our online community.