This may come as a shock to health care professionals, particularly to the ones who cringe when their patients bring in health information they found via Dr. Google. But it turns out that the accuracy of information found on online patient support groups is actually surprisingly reliable. For example, the British Medical Journal reported that most false or misleading statements in online patient groups are in fact rapidly corrected by other participants in subsequent postings. And there aren’t many of these false or misleading statements. The journal published an interesting study that found only 10 of 4,600 online patient group postings studied (that’s just 0.22%) were actually found to be false or misleading. But of these, seven were identified as such by other site participants and corrected within an average of four hours and 33 minutes.(1)
As you know, online support groups exist for those living with just about every possible health condition. Some support communities even target very specific discussion group members like Lesbians with breast cancer or Jewish alcoholics, as well as a range of issues beyond medical conditions (e.g. parents of twins, bereavement, victims of professional misconduct).
When it comes to going online to seek information, answers or support from your peers, it does appear that there’s a lid for every pot. Continue reading “Discover. Join. Leave. The life cycle of online patient groups”