A report released this March on Chronic Disease and the Internet by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation showed that people fighting chronic illnesses are using social media to connect with other patients and gather more information.
The report begins by stating that those suffering from chronic illness are less likely than healthy adults to have access to the internet, but “Once online, having a chronic disease increases the probability that someone will take advantage of social media to share what they know and learn from their peers.” It goes on to report “having a chronic disease significantly increases an internet user’s likelihood to say they work on a blog or contribute to an online discussion”.
It is easy to find the evidence of this all over the internet. Blogs and support groups for people with similar diseases have popped up all over the web, especially on Facebook. These groups allow patients to connect with others who are sharing their experiences. It also allows for an exchange of health information, and many times, doctor referrals.
One Eyed Girls- My Life with Strabismus is one of my favorite examples of one of these blogs. Blog author Heather takes readers through her lifelong journey with Strabismus and subsequent surgeries. She eloquently describes her vision troubles and the treatments used to help her. She talks about her vision therapy and what works for her and for other people she has met. It is an excellent example of someone using social media to connect with others.
Finding out if patients keep a blog of their vision troubles can help eye doctors connect with the patients and better understand their health needs and concerns. Ophthalmologists can also help a newly diagnosed patient find comfort by recommending a few online support groups or reputable blogs and health sites.
Just remember to advise patients that not everything they read online is true and that they should always defer to their doctor.
Article submitted by Crystal Blaker, founder of CB Consultations- CB Consultations specializes in helping eye care professionals ease into social media. Contact Crystal at (314)749-1939 or CrystalBlaker@gmail.com or visit her website here: www.cbconsultations.com