Blogging medicine and public health
Tara Smith and Becky Oskin
-health/medical blogosphere very diverse: policy to research to administration to education to advocacy, etc.
-common experience of health/med bloggers is that people write to them for medical advice; how do you handle this? What are the ethics of health/med blogging?
-Kevin M.D. site includes disclaimer
-M.D.s feel culpable giving specific med advice, despite the fact that some of the questions are broad enough to be asked by many
-when trying to get out accurate information, can be flooded by comments from people
-people are diagnosis shopping OR
-people become the expert on own disease
-are we running risk of losing concept of authority by participating in really open environment, as blogosphere is full of the non-expert?
-blog interface can be great medium for feedback
-if you have a connection with someone, more likely to trust them and trust his/her information
-health bloggers need to connect info/research to actual people, people’s stories
-is there data about people using sci blogs vs. people using Internet in general? Are ed levels of sci blog followers higher than general users?
-mostly male, upper 30s, college degree, lots of IT industry
-education and prevention very important for public health; blogs can be a good medium for getting info to public
-can be multiple layers of release and patient privacy that must be factored into sharing of patient stories
-what is role of med blogs? To carry message to masses that aren’t public health professionals?
-not all blogs have to talk to the public ("not all blogs have to be all things")
-fictionalized medical narratives, while trying to convey information to public but at the same time protecting patients, have less authority because people know that they are fictional
-what if patients guest blogged about their own experience? What are the ethics? Great idea but concern is that because doctor is in position of power over the patient might seem that they are being put in awkward position
-what are reporters interested in writing about with public health?
-Rose Hoban: what is new, today (editors asking)? Personally favors public health over bench science, “people over critters”
-got to watch for saturation point
-always going to be news driven, but helps to have both high personal or “wow” factor
-sex, obesity always gets news coverage
-if topics are controversial, you’re guaranteed to get good readership; must be careful not to do these too often
-weird, gory stories get shopped around quite a bit
-passwords don’t keep people from misusing information; can’t control information on web; need to trust audience
-when citing health info sources in med blogs, make sure sources are ADA accessible:
1. use straight HTML
2. tag images
3. structure documents using headings
4. don’t put up proprietary documents (i.e., PDFs) without confirming accessibility
-when use images in blogs, decrease readability significantly
-www.webaim.org has checker called the Wave that visually displays “bad stuff” on page
-for coders, Cynthia Says will identify code that should be cleaned up