Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Carnegie Mellon, Pitt Ethicists Question Impact of Hospital Advertisi

About 20 years ago I started thinking along similar lines. Now I am at a point questioning if it is ethical to profit from health care. Two years as a Peace Corps volunteer (back in 1980/81 in Liberia, West Africa) changed my views on many topics considerably. Also I think it was the wonderful humanistic/social justice  tone of grade school religious textbooks, notably 8th grade back in 1969.

Summary (from EurkAlert!)
Ethicists question the impact of health information that is available online, specifically hospital advertisements, and argue that while the Internet offers patients valuable data and tools — including hospital quality ratings and professional treatment guidelines – that may help them when facing decisions about where to seek care or whether to undergo a medical procedure, reliable and unbiased information may be hard to identify among the growing number of medical care advertisements online.

From the 30 January 2015 Carnegie Mellon press release

In a commentary piece published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Carnegie Mellon University’s Alex John London and the University of Pittsburgh’s Yael Schenkerquestion the impact of health information that is available online, specifically hospital advertisements. London and Schenker argue that while the Internet offers patients valuable data and tools — including hospital quality ratings and professional treatment guidelines — that may help them when facing decisions about where to seek care or whether to undergo a medical procedure, reliable and unbiased information may be hard to identify among the growing number of medical care advertisements online.

“The marketing objective of selling services by making them seem attractive to consumers can create tensions or outright conflict with the ethical imperative of respect for persons, since the latter requires that patients make medical decisions in light of balanced information about the full range of risks and benefits associated with their care,” said London, professor of philosophy in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and director of the Center for Ethics and Policy.

Referencing a research article in the same journal issue that found hospital websites failed to disclose risk information for transaortic valve replacement (TAVR), a recently approved procedure to treat patients whose aortic valve does not open fully, London and Schenker pinpoint four risk concerns for patients seeking medical information online:

1. Identifying Advertising — Hospital websites often have the appearance of an education portal, leaving patients to assume that the information presented is informational, not persuasive.

2. Finding Unbiased Information — Unlike FDA-regulated direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs, hospital advertising is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission and subject to the same “reasonable” standards applied to advertisements for common consumer goods such as cars and cereal. While hospital advertisements may describe specific medical interventions that entail significant
risks, there is no legal requirement that these risks be disclosed.

3. Recognizing Incomplete or Imbalanced Information — Poor-quality medical information is hard to recognize unless the person reading it is a trained clinician.

4. Influence on Health Care Decisions — As patients seek out information online, the quality of their decision-making and care choices will be influenced by the accuracy or inaccuracy of the information they are likely to encounter.

To begin to fix the risk to patients seeking medical information online, London and Schenker recommend to clearly label hospital websites as advertisements; allocate resources to created balanced online informational tools; and focus future attention on not only the content of health care advertising but its impact.

For more information, visit http://www.hss.cmu.edu/philosophy/faculty-london.php.

 

Related Resource

  • Evaluating Health Information (Health Resources for All, Edited by JaniceFlahiff)
    • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.

      The tips include

      • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
      • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
        If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
      • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
      • Check to see how current the information is.
      • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?
    • How to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet (US National Cancer Institute)

January 31, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] 9 out of 10 health entries on Wikipedia are inaccurate, study finds

From the 14 May 2014 post at Venture Beat News

Millions of people around the world immediately go to the Web for information after feeling a mysterious ache, pain, rash, or bump. This often results in either a panic attack or a false sense of calm. Doctors have warned against this practice since the days of Netscape, and now a new report puts some science behind their fears.

Researchers at Campbell University in North Carolina compared Wikipedia entries on 10 of the costliest health problems with peer-reviewed medical research on the same illnesses. Those illnesses included heart disease, lung cancer, depression, and hypertension, among others.

The researchers found that nine out of the 10 Wikipedia entries studied contained inaccurate and sometimes dangerously misleading information. “Wikipedia articles … contain many errors when checked against standard peer-reviewed sources,” the report states. “Caution should be used when using Wikipedia to answer questions regarding patient care.”

At Wikipedia anybody can contribute to entries on health problems — no medical training (or even common sense) is required.

“While Wikipedia is a convenient tool for conducting research, from a public health standpoint patients should not use it as a primary resource because those articles do not go through the same peer-review process as medical journals,” said the report’s lead author, Dr. Robert Hasty in a statement.

And there’s a lot of health information on Wikipedia. The site contains more than 31 million entries, and at least 20,000 of them are health-related, the report says.

The study findings were published in this month’s Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. You can see the full text of the study here.

Via: Daily Mail

More about the companies and people from this article:

Wikipedia is a project operated by a non-profit organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, and created and maintained by a strong community of 80,000 international active volunteer editors. Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia has be… read more »

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Related Resources

How to evaluate health information (flahiff.google.com)

Evaluating health information (MedlinePlus)

How to evaluate health information (NIH)

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

Self-diagnosis on Google, other websites the first line of medical care for more than half of Canadians: poll

 

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Related Resources

Millions of consumers get health information from magazines, TV or the Internet. Some of the information is reliable and up to date; some is not. How can you tell the good from the bad?

First, consider the source. If you use the Web, look for an “about us” page. Check to see who runs the site: Is it a branch of the government, a university, a health organization, a hospital or a business? Focus on quality. Does the site have an editorial board? Is the information reviewed before it is posted? Be skeptical. Things that sound too good to be true often are. You want current, unbiased information based on research.

July 31, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Privacy Threats When Seeking Online Health Information

From the 8 July 2013 JAMA Internal Medicine article

Patients increasingly use the Internet to access health-related information for which they are not charged.1In turn, websites gather information from those who browse their sites and target advertisements to them. Yet this business model masks a more complicated picture.

A patient who searches on a “free” health-related website for information related to “herpes” should be able to assume that the inquiry is anonymous. If not anonymous, the information knowingly or unknowingly disclosed by the patient should not be divulged to others.

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.37.45 AM

The full text is not available online.
However, it might be available at a local public, academic, or medical library. Call ahead and ask for a reference librarian.

 

July 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

14 Ways Social Media May Soon Change Your Doctor’s Visit

Although this article has a good deal of advertising and most links are to commercial sites, the content seems to be a good summary of possible futures of doctor visits. Overall it seems that social media can improve the doctor-patient relationship.

From 14 Ways Social Media May Soon Change Your Doctor’s Visits  (May 15, 2012 article at The Sociable Blog)

In 2006, Pew Research Forum discovered that 80% of American adults used the Internet to research medical information. By 2011, data (separately) compiled by Frost and Sullivan and QuantiaMD showed between 87% to 90% of physicians used at least one social media site for personal reasons, with a further 67% to 75% opting for more professional postings. LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogging, and the like stand poised to change the face of healthcare in the exact same manner it pretty much did for most other industries.

 

Medical professionals — not just doctors — have discovered some creative (and not-so-creative) ways to apply the technology to many different aspects of their field, meaning savvy, Internet-literate patients should stay on the lookout for what might lay ahead.

  1. Better Information and Support……

June 7, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Symptoms Are Presented Online Influence People’s Reactions To Possible Medical Conditions

From the 14 March 2012 article at Medical News Today

…Today, people are more likely to go online to punch in their symptoms.

Details of a new study examining how symptoms presented online influence people’s reactions to possible medical conditions will be presented in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Researchers found that identifying symptoms in “streaks” – sequences of consecutive items on a list that are either general or specific – prompted people to perceive higher disease risk than symptoms that were not identified in an uninterrupted series. …

…A recent report by the Health Information National Trends Survey examined the use of Internet in seeking cancer-related information. More than 60 percent of individuals who are feeling ill go to the Internet to search for health information. Many decide to go to the doctor or not based on what they learn online,” Kwan said. “This is really an era of self-diagnosis. To our knowledge, our study is the first to examine the impact of online presentation formats on medical decision making.” ..

..”The length of the list matters,” Kwan said. “This is analogous to a dilution effect. If you don’t have that many symptoms, you may not experience concern about getting that disease if you’re looking at a long list.”

Medical implications of the study include insight into how symptoms may be presented online, depending on goals. For instance, if someone wants to increase awareness of an emerging medical issue that requires treatment, symptoms that are more likely to be checked off in sequence can be grouped together, Kwan said.

According to Votruba, “If there are concerns that the perceptions of disease risk are too high, possibly resulting in over utilization of health services, then symptom lists should alternate common and specific symptoms or create longer symptom lists.”

“Previous research shows that perception of risk of disease is a powerful predictor of health preventative behavior (such as going to the doctor),” Kwan said. “How information is presented online will make a substantive difference in behavior.”

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Fee based health info may be free online through your library’s Web site

The Internet has a wealth of health information from trusted, reliable sites.
(I’ve noted quite a few in this blog and at my Google site – Health and Medical News and Resources)

However, it is not always easy to locate health information, especially on specific topics.

Your local public or academic library just may have the online sources you need.
Although quite a few online resources require paid subscriptions, your library may have included them at their Web site.
All you have to do is register for borrowing privileges (get a library card) at your local library.
Alternatively, you may be able to just go to the library and get access through their computers.

At my local library, I discovered the following…some or all just might be at your library also…ask a reference librarian or check the library’s Web site

  • Alt Health Watch 
    Offers information about Alternative Health issues, including complementary, holistic and integrated approaches to health care and wellness. Provides full text articles form a number of sources, including: journals, reports, consumer newsletters, pamphlets, booklets, special reports, original research and book excerpts. This database is provided by OPLIN, the Ohio Public Library Information Network.
  • ConsumerReports.org
    Ratings and reviews, recommendations and buying advice for thousands of products and services. Users will also find in-depth advice, tips and trends written by Consumer Reports experts. Frequently updated articles, blogs and video content allow consumers to peruse the latest consumer news — whether they’re looking to learn more about budget-friendly home improvement plans, understanding the benefits and risks of retirement options, or searching for the latest recalls of baby products. This database provided by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
  • Health & Wellness Resource Center
    Provides up-to-date reference material as well as full-text magazines, journals, and pamphlets from a wide variety of authoritative medical sources. Includes streaming videos featuring medical experts plus links to key health websites.
  • Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition
    Provides scholarly full text journals focusing on many medical disciplines and featuring the Lexi-PAL Drug Guide, which covers 1,300 generic drug patient education sheets with more than 4,700 brand names. This database is provided by OPLIN, the Ohio Public Library Information Network.
  • MEDLINE
    Offers medical information on medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system and pre-clinical sciences among many subjects. This database is provided by OPLIN, the Ohio Public Library Information Network.
  • Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection
    Covers many psychological topics, including emotional and behavioral characteristics, psychiatry and psychology, mental processes, anthropology, and observational and experimental methods. This database is provided by OPLIN, the Ohio Public Library Information Network.
Related Resources

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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