Seeking Personal Health Stories Online

If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in knowing about others’ experiences with headaches, chronic pain or chronic illness. A recent study supports this, showing that people who seek information online are primarily drawn to sites that contain personal stories.

Readers quickly dismissed drug companies’ sites and government sites, even though they have high-quality information. Even if a site made a good first impression, readers moved on unless it included personal stories. Many people went straight for sites with patient stories.

As a blogger, I think this is fabulous, but. . . . All websites are skewed to the writer’s perspective, even if they aren’t drug companies with suspect agendas. And many writers of online content don’t check accuracy, so information is likely to be misleading or wrong.

If you’re not sure how reputable the site is, don’t fall into the 75% of Americans who don’t check health information sources. And please, please don’t trust Wikipedia for health information. It can be a good starting point, but there’s a lot of misinformation.

[via Kevin, MD]