miércoles, 24 de febrero de 2016

Online medical information: Help, hype, or harm?

Online medical information: Help, hype, or harm?

Connecting is MercatorNet's blog about social media and the virtual self. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your tips and suggestions. Post comments. We want to make it as lively as possible. The editor is Denyse O'Leary, a Canadian journalist.  - See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/connecting/view/online-medical-information-help-hype-or-harm/17663#sthash.E8O1q7xy.dpuf


Online medical information: Help, hype, or harm?
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The internet is, as we know, a digital high seas, so when we seek answers about our health (and, according to Pew research,”80% of us do ), we are entering open waters. But we do it anyway in the hope that we can relieve anxiety.

Here’s a useful caution offered by Hubpages: “Medical websites do not show which symptoms are considered the most important or significant,” because, of course, they can’t.

For example, if we seek information about a severe headache, we may get a generalized list of possible causes, depending on the circumstances. But an experienced clinician who examines a patient in person might diagnose giant cell temporal arteritis, an inflammation of the temporal arteries that can lead to blindness or stroke—but is easily treated if detected.

The skinny: We should never go to the internet for advice as an alternative to seeing a qualified doctor in person. We should ask ourselves honestly, why don’t I want to see a doctor about this?

There is also the less serious but slightly embarrassing risk of convincing ourselves that we know what is wrong as a result of consulting “Dr. Google,” only to be told by our comparatively mundane local medic, Dr. Bloodwork, that the problem is something else entirely. And worse, that it must be treated in a way we have not read up on.

So why should we go to the internet? Assuming our health issues have been correctly identified, we can learn things professionals do not have time to explain and things that are best understood by online communities of people who are living with the condition. One doctor calls that approach being an “empowered” patient.

A formal study in 2012 found:

… patients with access to their online records and other self-service tools from their provider made more visits to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms compared to people without those tools available.
But it’s hard to know how to interpret that finding because 1) it would take much larger and longer term studies to determine whether more frequent consultation resulted in better health; and 2) people who seek health information online may be more motivated to take further steps already.

A new coinage, “cyberchondria,” refers to the worry some people experience from overdosing on medical information online:

Many people turn to the Internet to learn more about their ailments and, hopefully, match their symptoms to a likely cause. But the web’s vast stockpile of (sometimes false) information can actually backfire when people come across rare and horrific diseases that have no bearing in the first place… It’s a question of the art vs. the science of medicine.”
Yes, medicine was an art long before it was a science, and will likely stay that way.

See also: Robotic surgery: Paging Dr. Carebot? At first glance, it sounds impersonal, sterile. But there are pros and cons.

A brief introduction to how online medical information can help, used wisely:


Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger
- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/connecting/view/online-medical-information-help-hype-or-harm/17663#sthash.E8O1q7xy.dpuf


A few days ago I attended a conference in Sydney on pornography. Unlike most activities, it is easier to write an article about pornography (see below) than to chit-chat about it. "Hey, guess what, I went to this really cool pornography talk today" is not a conversational gambit which will secure a repeat invitation to dinner. 
Anyhow, I found out lots of things that I really didn't want to know and are better left undescribed. The theme was very positive -- that pornography is a "public health crisis", rather like smoking. And like smoking, it can be turned around. So I went away convinced that pornography is one of the key social issues of our time; like lead in the water, it can destroy whole cultures, not just individuals. 
This is difficult to prove, of course. But I would open my argument by quoting the Analects of Confucius:
“If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.

If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.

If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nations.

When there is order in the nations, there will peace in the world.”

Michael Cook



Is pornography a public health crisis?

Michael Cook | FEATURES | 24 February 2016
The evidence is piling up.

Online medical information: Help, hype, or harm?

Denyse O'Leary | CONNECTING | 24 February 2016
'Cyberchondria' arises from overdosing on medical information online.

The children of divorce: anything but resilient

Nicole M. King | FAMILY EDGE | 24 February 2016
Research shows that parental divorce has impacts right into adulthood.

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