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Know Your Net Info
Sorry it’s been awhile. My daughters and I just returned home, completing the 2009 cheer competition schedule. Thank God! I love to travel, Disney World, Baltimore and Atlantic City were awesome, but it is a relief to be home.
Normally, and especially during our cheer competition times Mom barrages me, via email, with “News from the Net”. I’m proud that at 72 she is so “Net savvy”. But, the inundation of warnings about vaccines, medications, and of course, yes, cures for diabetes drives me nuts. I’m a pretty positive person and do not want to ever squelch her hope of a cure for Diabetes, so I continue to read her emails and newsflashes of Net Finds. Working as a nurse in acute care hospital settings I’m aware how prevalent and strong peoples’ beliefs are to what they heard or seen on the Net. So when Mom sends me a “friend of a friend told me about this email, I check it out with skeptical analysis. Here is my skepticism explained in hopes you will do the same when you are given or happen to come across a health Net find:
First and foremost ask “who is the writer?” Does this person have relevant experience in the health care field? How much and is it the kind of experience that’s important to me? Unfortunately there are web sites out there that dub hungry, savvy, reliable writers as experts. You need to truly scrutinize the writer and their background as to significance and application of the content they write. Next, assess the site where the post is located. Is it an advertisement let’s say on a pharmaceutical site? If so the information will be biased. Or is it a support group site with experts giving their information and then there are separate chat rooms and bloggers giving their own opinions coping with the subject matter of the site? Or is it a university or notable medical center site? I obviously give much more credence to the latter two than the first examples of sites. Also check if a “Net” rumor is true by visiting snopes.com or urbanlegends.about.com.
Next, focus on the content. Is the article identifying an immediate cure or miracle? If so check the site. Again is this an advertisement/marketing campaign? Who is this site’s owner? Also check for resources and references. Are they current, relevant? Also are you given all the information or just one sided report? Some posts quote studies. Check the relevancy, validity and reliability of the studies. How many subjects were in the study? I once read a study a la mom regarding a vaccine and its effects. There were only 20 subjects in this study, most were middle aged to elderly women in Norway. A pharmaceutical company sponsored the study. For me the study was meaningless. For Mom it had proved her long held theory that a certain vaccine should not be given. That leads me to conclude that what is out there and what is read is essentially a matter of perspective. Yes there is a lot of wonderful information out there just be cognizant of where you’re getting the information, from and by whom.
For Diabetes information my personal favorite reference site is Rick Mendosa’s Diabetes Directory. This fourteen year old award winning site started as a catalog of all online resources with valuable information on Diabetes. Rick updates the site frequently. Having diabetes, Rick is passionate about identifying worthwhile web sites. He categorizes and identifies the best. He saves you much time without weeding through the World Wide Web search engines. His site is www.mendosa.com/diabetes.htm.
I love the Net I just hope you use the Net as a supplemental information field, not your primary one. It is the gravest fear of a health care provider that persons reading the Net material may delay or even cancel seeking medical advice because of their belief of a non-scientifically valid or unreliable statement on the Net. I hope this helps you to become a more educated Net reader and analyzer of information. Be cognizant of marketing bias; as well as how truly expert is the so called “expert” writing your Net post. Stay healthy. ☺ Adrienne K