In the last decade the World Wide Web has become one of the prime sources for medical data searches. The abundance of information and emphasis on consumer communication, which are the main characteristics of the new generation of the web named "Web 2.0", enable users to engage and educate others by sharing and collaborating knowledge. It also enables them to receive medical information based on the experience of other patients, while the duration of the traditional physician's visit has shortened. However, using Web 2.0 for health collaboration has drawbacks as well: When alternative ways of "knowing" replace objective medical facts, there is danger of misinformation and truth "flattening". This article examines the distribution of medical misinformation online: Its characteristics, the nature of the messages presented online and the means that might help protect users and patients from it. The authors hold positions in the Israeli Dairy Board (IDB): Dr. Averch manages the health field on the IDB, and the findings in this article are based on research that she is leading as part of this position, and Dr. Mishali is a trained psychologist, and acts as a strategic consultant for IDB in the field of coping with the opposition to milk and its products. In this article it is initially shown how the characteristics of information distribution in general help spreading medical misinformation online: The decline of doctors' authority as sole providers of medical information, disillusionment and suspicion towards science and the notion of expertise, and the emergence of new ways to evaluate information, based on community ties. The nature of this pseudo-medical information will then be discussed, including the range of the phenomenon and the probability of users to be affected by it. Furthermore, we will raise specific tactics in which anti-establishment messages are portrayed; examples will be given of the use of emotion evoking content in the anti-establishment messages in order to arouse comment. It will be demonstrated in anti-dairy products and anti-vaccination campaigns. The impact of pseudo-medical language on consumers will be debated, although the content can easily be scientifically disproved. Finally, recommendations for a better medical dialogue with the patient, based on the online arena of medical knowledge described, will be provided.
|Translated title of the contribution
|Who affects the patient, Dr. Google or the doctor?
|Number of pages
|Published - 1 Sep 2015
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Medicine
- Electronic commerce
- מידע רפואי באינטרנט ובאמצעי התקשורת
- צרכנות וירטואלית