Can you trust medical blogs? Clinical Cases and Images describes an initiative among medical bloggers to establish the credibility of their blogs. Using a variation of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine‘s 10 questions to ask when evaluating online medical sources.
Although I’ve never thought of myself as a medical blogger, I suppose I am. So here’s my disclosure.
1. Who runs this site?
Me, a patient
2. Who pays for the site?
Me, with a little help from Google ads and Amazon sales
3. What is the purpose of the site?
To create a supportive community of people with headache; and to help people with headache know that they aren’t alone, be informed on current headache- and pain-related news, and be more involved in their own medical care
4. Where does the information come from?
News sources like the New York Times, Medical News Today and Reuters; other medical blogs; research and articles from headache organizations, like ACHE and the National Headache Foundation
5. What is the basis of the information?
I’m a long-time migraine and CDH patient with a background in writing, teaching and social science, which helps me evaluate, understand and share information
6. How is the information selected?
What’s in the news, on blogs or a hot topic on a forum; headache books and articles; my own experiences
7. How current is the information?
I try to post every weekday, usually in relation to topics that are typically no more than a week old. When I find old articles that are interesting, I check for updated information on the topic.
8. How does the site choose links to other sites?
I share the source of inspiration or information, typically other blogs and only link to sites that I’ve evaluated as credible. The only time I link to sites that I don’t know much about, it is to link to a news story that’s no longer available in a wider arena, like Google or Yahoo news or Reuters.
9. What information about [visitors] does the site collect, and why?
I collect site statistics through Site Meter and StatCounter. My primary goal is to see how many people visit the site and what sites refer visitors to me. I also look at what search terms people use to find the site and what other sites their search pulled up — I use this information to make sure I’m covering topics that are relevant to readers.
Through the statistic sites, I’m able to access IP addresses of readers and locations of visitors. I sometimes look at IP addresses to see if major companies visit the site (like drug companies) and where visitors come from so I can be sure the information is geographically relevant.
But, honestly, I rarely look beyond the visitor numbers, referral sites and search terms.
10. How does the site manage interactions with visitors?
I respond to e-mail in as timely of a manner as I can manage. I respond to comments unless they don’t need a reply. Sometimes I reply via e-mail, sometimes directly in the comments. I delete comments that are obviously irrelevant spam.