RELIABLE SOURCES ON THE INTERNET - MSforDummies and Health Blog - Ministry of Health
For those who do not already know, the Health Blog, the Ministry of Health (Brazil), is a contemporary, trustworthy source of news and information on health. In addition, the Ministry of Health (Brazil) is present and extremely actively in the various social networks, among them on Facebook, publications and issues present in our daily lives.
The Health Blog was part of the 2nd Meeting of Bloggers and Activists in Health Social Networks, held in São Paulo, Brazil, on November 8th, 2014, and, on occasion, I had the pleasure to get to know how the team works and operates in the Blog and the official Social Networks of Ministry of Health, especially Gabriela Rocha - Publisher - and Ana Beatriz Magalhães - Reporter. This team is extremely competent and, I say, tireless, since no comment on the Ministry of Health Facebook page remains unanswered (you can check it out!!!).
Mainly because its representative is from a government sector, the Ministry of Health staff make sure all the information published on the Internet is accurate, and it's been more and more used as a source of research - often the first or even the only - for diseases and health treatments (this has already been addressed here in the blog!).
It is important to mention that the information published on the Internet are generic, not taking into account peculiarities or specific clinical situations that might change treatment needs or their diagnosis. Each patient is different and should be individualized approached by a physician, preferably a specialist. That's why it is so important to look for reliable information on the Internet, and yet, don't replace the doctors support and medical advice.
With that being said, and focusing on Blogs that have been searched even more everyday by virtual patients, Bia Magalhaes Reporter published a special post in the Health Blog, which included my participation. Check it out:
Are the sources of health information on the internet reliable?
According to the National Survey of Households 2013, half of those 10 years and older accessed the Internet in Brazil in 2013, representing approximately 86.7 million people. Increased access to the internet in the country is changing significantly the process of searching for information, which are to be found more easily and quickly. In regards to health issues, those numbers directly increase the knowledge of Brazilians on diseases, prevention, treatment, medicines, professionals and even contact with other patients. But is everyone searching for information on reliable virtual environments?
The health knowledge acquired through the internet can be of great use, but personal contact between the patient and the doctor or health care professional should not be replaced. Ana Miguel, coordinator of Social Networks of the Ministry of Health (Brazil), explains that the possibility of seeking a variety of information on the internet can be very positive, but warns of caution and wisdom in interpreting each content. "The information available online so often is generalized and do not take into account the particularities of patients. Each person has a history, characteristics and needs, which require an individualized approach, it doesn't matter how simple the case appears to be", he warns.
Another possibility is the virtual environment interaction with patients who are anywhere in the world. Blogs like "MS for Dummies" by Cynthia Macedo, also available in English, contribute to the dissemination of information on the Internet, which requires commitment and dedication in each published content and interactions with readers. "I often receive questions in my publications, especially by e-mail or inbox messages on Facebook. My answers are usually based on personal experiences and scientific readings, however, the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (and I believe that any disease) is individualized so that only the doctor specialist will be able to indicate the best drug for treating the disease , symptoms or even the necessary vitamin supplements", says Cynthia, who also works professionally as a lawyer.
Access to reliable information can be done in portals and official or recognized institutions of global health agencies profiles, and even pages that base their publications in these organizations. If used with caution and responsibility, the internet makes it possible to obtain real-time updated content, beyond the globalized contact experiences, feelings and stories inherent in the treatment process.
Bruna Rocha Silveira, Porto Alegre, Brazil, maintains the blog "Multiple Sclerosis and I" since 2009, where she shares daily experiences of the diagnosis, which includes issues such as examinations, medicines and health professionals. The blogger always searches the use of official sources such as the Ministry of Health, national and international associations of medical research and patient. "I chose these sources because they are sources that are based on scientific research and not on rumors or speculations. When we speak of an incurable disease, people want a quick, cheap and painless solution, then we have to be careful when disclosing anything about the disease because they will find it. Then the information about the disease have to be given by those who deeply studied the subject. When I find what I seek in any of these places, I ask my doctor", says Bruna.
It is your duty to verify that the information obtained online is true. Some research on diseases and treatments evolve quickly, you must always check the publication dates to make sure you have the most recent information. "If the information is not correct, is not safe, you do not have good sources and is not consistent, it will impact someone's life positively or extremely negative. If you have good sources and the information is good, it will for sure mpact it positively, now if the information is not accurate, it can affect the health decisions of patient, which may have a consequence for his/her entire life, "says Priscilla Torres, creator of Health Bloggers Meeting.
Check that content, products, and health services are under a legal and ethical responsibility of an institution is also a secure measure when searching the internet. Be careful and take care of your health!