Beware of Internet health advises

According to new British study, patients who use the internet to find out information about chronic disease rather than listening to their doctor could be putting their health at risk.

Using interactive computer tools, such as online support groups and chatrooms, does help improve the knowledge of people with conditions such as asthma and diabetes and provides social support.

But researchers from University College London said there was no evidence that "cyber-medicine" helped people change their behaviour.

They said there was evidence using interactive services may actually leave patients in &to=' target=_blank>worse health, reports informs The Scotsman.

Suppose 1,000 patients who take their medicine reduce the number of heart attacks for their group by half a dozen. Doctors will say this proves patients should take their medicine, she said.

But a patient may see this the other way around. The financial cost and perhaps side-effects of the medication might be too great when the chances are greater than 99 per cent that it won't bring him or her any benefit.

"You might say, 'Do I want the unpleasantness of taking medicine for a small risk reduction?' " she said. If this is an informed decision, then it may make sense for the patient.

"It's important not to see this negative clinical outcome as necessarily negative from the patient's point of view," informs

Dr. Murray said there are two possible reasons for the paradox between active knowledge-seekers and their seemingly worsening health. One, that when they learn of small, but important, statistical effects of a treatment they become less frightened and thus unmotivated to change the way they might if a doctor bluntly told a person with diabetes to control her sugar or face death.Two, knowledge-seekers become so steeped in information from the Internet they make treatment choices on their own, contradicting advice from their doctors.

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