There are many internet sites nowadays which can be a good source of information especially to patients and their caregivers. Nevertheless, not all medical websites or blogs contain accurate or valid information since most sites is created to sell some products or services. If you want to learn more about a medical condition through online search, here is some useful advice:
1. Preferably, the site must be sponsored by a medical institution, organization or association. There is a high probability that medical professionals are behind the content of such sites. An example of which is Mayoclinic.com.
2. Avoid sites that look shabbily presented. Good sites invest money, effort and time to establish impact and credibility to the readers. As much as possible, the site must be a registered domain and not just a simple blog that can disappear anytime. Check the site’s domain name and standing in Better Business Bureau.
3. The site must have a disclaimer stating that the information presented is not in any way a substitute for medical advice.
4. Never give your personal information unless the site can be trusted. More importantly, the site must ensure that your personal information would not be shared.
5. Search for forums where people give feedback about certain sites. User experience is a reliable way to get good comments or criticism about a certain site. Avoid forums that have members arguing all of the time. Remember, you need information not arguments.
6. The site must present valid source of references for their journals or articles. Sites with peer-reviewed journals are highly preferable.
7. Never entertain sites that focus on selling a single brand or a group of products. Most likely, the content is pure advertising enticing people to patronize a certain product.
8. Begin your search on the top 10 list by search engines such as Google. These sites made it to the top since millions of people have visited such sites which make them more reliable.
Getting information from the Internet is a good idea as long as you know how to filter bad sites from valuable sites. Remember, a consultation with a real doctor is your first line of defense for treatment.
Scenario and Recommendations:
A family member is suspected of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which is why a loved one wants to gather more information about the condition. Certain symptoms have been observed that prompts the loved one to research about the condition. An online self-help guide for patients has become popular in some parts of the world as cited by one study on bulimia that “participants also reported a high level of satisfaction with the idea of self-help via the Internet, its ease of use, usefulness and the text-messaging module” ( Nevonen, et.al, 2006 ). One very good website that the patient or family member can go to is National Institute of Mental Health or http://www.nimh. nih.gov. The website is specifically created for the general public by the U.S. government to enlighten its citizens on various mental health care issues. You would immediately observe that the website has a good lay-out and presents the information on a logical manner. Also, the site is not promoting or selling any product since it is designed to be purely informative. The description for OCD is plain and can be understood by an ordinary person. There are hundreds of researches that can be accessed in order to learn more about certain medical conditions. There is also a disclaimer on the bottom which states that the website does not endorse any organization or product.
The other website which must be avoided by the patient is http://health.hpathy.com/ obsessive-compulsive-disorder-symptoms-cure.asp. The site has an elaborate discussion of OCD but also endorses some products since it has a SHOP page. Also homeopathy is part of alternative medicine which should not be a patient’s primary concern when learning about a disease or condition. There have been many studies about homeopathy that did not yield positive results so patients must steer away from such sites. Instead, they must explore first western medicine since the methods and system is scientifically validated.
Nevonen, L., Mark, M., Levin, B., Lindstrom, M., & Paulson-Karlsson, G. (2006). Evaluation of a new Internet-based self-help guide for patients with bulimic symptoms in Sweden.Nordic Journal of Psychiatry,60, 463-468. Retrieved December 1, 2010, from http://www.netunion.com/publications/ Nevonen_salutNordic.pdf
NIMH · Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD. (2010, February 18). NIMH · Home. Retrieved December 1, 2010 from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.