Health consumers are concerned about information on the Internet. They want to know if information is:
- produced by a crank;
The Internet increases your access to health information.
- There is a large amount of information available, much of it of good quality from reputable sources.
- It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and never takes a holiday.
- You can look at sites from other countries and find out about literature, drugs and treatments not available in the UK.
- For rare conditions particularly, it enables people to get in touch with each other.
However, along with these benefits, the Internet does bring problems and dangers.
- There is so much information you can get overwhelmed.
- The information is not provided in a controlled, paced way.
- You can see information aimed at health professionals as well as at the public.
- You can find out frightening facts.
- Anyone can put up their own Web site, including cranks and fraudsters.
- If you are ‘vulnerable’ you can fall into the trap of believing everything you read, for example:
(a) everything you read about a condition is actually going to happen to you or the person you care for.
- There is no person to discuss the information with as you receive it.
Good quality information can help you:
- cope with and manage your condition;
- care for someone with a condition;
- live a healthy lifestyle.
But information can also put pressures on you.
- It can provide frightening facts about a life threatening or life limiting condition;
- It can lead to guilt that the condition is some how ‘your fault’ if it is genetic or contributed to by certain lifestyles;
- It can lead to feeling ‘forced’ to find information or join campaigns to raise money for a ‘cure’.
Hopefully the Judge project guidelines will help you to find, judge and use health information from the Internet.