The characteristics of unsuccessful e-mentoring relationships for youth with disabilities

Carmit Noa Shpigelman, Carol J. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, researchers have focused on the benefits of e-mentoring for young people with disabilities, such as greater access to sources of information and support. Relatively few researchers have explored the problem of unsuccessful e-mentoring relationships, i.e., mentors and mentored individuals who withdraw from an e-mentoring program before completion. Our findings promote understanding of the dynamics of unsuccessful vs. successful e-mentoring relationships for youth with disabilities. Using qualitative methods, we focused primarily on negative online experiences. We compared the e-mentoring process of six "unsuccessful" pairs of mentors and mentored students who withdrew from an e-mentoring program with three exemplary "successful" pairs who fully completed the program. Our findings revealed different communication patterns in the two groups. Whereas the unsuccessful pairs used a more formal style and distant tone, the successful pairs used an informal and supportive style. We discuss these differences, including the components that are essential to success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-475
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Support was received from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133P060003).


  • Internet
  • adolescents / youth, at-risk
  • communication
  • disability / disabled persons
  • mentoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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