Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More Cautions about Online Health Information

The Wall Street Journal published a piece yesterday by Dr. Benjamin Brewer called, "From Web-Savvy Patient to a 'Cyberchondriac,'" the main theme of which is summarized by the line, "As a physician, I'm not troubled by the autonomy of the informed patient. What troubles me is the proliferation of the partially informed patient and, frankly, the misinformed patient -- the patient who crosses the line from Internet-educated patient to cyberchondriac."

Brad King's Technology Review blog contains a commentary on the piece, stating, "However, when people use communication tools such as the Internet as the definite source of anything in their lives, there are bound to be -- well, unforeseen and unfortunate consequences."

There can never be too many reminders to 1) be cautious about automatically following any health advice you read online; 2) use any information you find in consultation with your health care provider. The web is a wonderful source for gaining new information, but Brad King says it well when he states, "The role of digital information has only made the information-gathering process easier; it hasn't fundamentally changed the ways in which we must process all of that information."
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