When we talk about the Internet, do we think of a valuable source of medical information that allows access to effective health education? Do we think of a place where professionals and researchers can promote the exchange of scientific information? Or do we consider the Internet to be a media riddled with unfounded rumors or forums with dangerously inaccurate health information? Without a doubt, on the Internet there is a lot of rigorous health information endorsed by professionals. The problem arrives when we try to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Fake news, biased information and unfounded rumors are circulating on the web at such a speed that, in a few minutes, they “have infected” millions of people. This happens, specially, in forums. We talk about open spaces to discuss specific topics created for groups with common interests to interact by exchanging ideas, theories and opinions. In them, anyone is free to give his opinion. Without filters.
In this post we will give advice to reach a forum on ulcerative colitis containing rigorous information. This is the case of EducaInflamatoria, (https://www.educainflamatoria.com/enviar-pregunta/categories/listings/colitis-ulcerosa). In this forum the health professionals who are specialists in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) themselves respond to the existing doubts.
H2 Internet, patients and health professionals
Internet is the most important, instantaneous and economical source of information available today. The possibilities it offers its users in terms of variety of services are unlimited. The health field is no less. Internet has become an essential working tool for health professionals. It allows them to communicate with each other, to train and to update.
As for patients, Internet has allowed them to be better informed about their illness and to be able to contact people who are going through the same process as them. This, according to several studies, leads to better treatment outcomes, better use of health service resources, and a stronger doctor-patient relationship.
However, health information on the Internet can be misleading or misinterpreted. According to the II Health Unfounded Rumors Study, https://saludsinbulos.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/es-II-estudio-bulos-salud.pdf 63% of health professionals surveyed say that they have seen patients concerned about a health-related unfounded rumor.
H2 6 keys to know if the forum on ulcerative colitis is reliable
When we do a search on the Internet, besides having some idea of how search engines work to find the best result and the most reliable, we must recognize when information is truthful and reliable.
Both forums and websites dealing with health issues must meet some requirements to be considered reliable. This infographic by #FFPacientes (https://ffpaciente.es/2017/03/la-salud-en-internet-cuidado/) provides some advice to help identify whether a forum on ulcerative colitis is reliable or not.
We have compiled 6 keys that shed some light on the shadows that circulate in the web:
- Anonymity: The forum must not be anonymous. In other words, the identity of the author or those responsible for the forum on ulcerative colitis must always be visible: name, medical specialty, workplace, etc.
- Professionalism of the authors: those who sign or endorse the answers to questions, comments or doubts must be medical professionals and facilitate the verification that they really are.
- Regular updating of content: In the health sector, progress is continuous. If the forum has not been updated for months the latest updates and advances in the treatment of ulcerative colitis or those related to medical protocols may not be collected.
- Promises: If the forum on ulcerative colitis proposes home remedies to cure the disease, is advertised as an alternative to medical consultation, recommends treatments without consulting a doctor or promises impossible results, it is not a place of trust.
- Image: Even if the forum is well written or has a good image or design it doesn’t mean it is a space with truthful and reliable information.
- Legal section: It is an indispensable element to know how the forum leaders will process the data and information provided by the users.
Remember: even if all the points mentioned above are met, the information you find in a forum on ulcerative colitis can NEVER replace the opinion of your healthcare professional. After all, he is the one who knows your personal case. That’s why he is the best person to help you and solve your doubts.