Sunday, November 16, 2014

Public Health's New Tool Is Wikipedia - The Atlantic

As there is with anything in this life, there are some upsides and some downsides to the Internet-as-doctor approach.

The downsides—as anyone who's ever Googled "sore throat" and emerged several hours later from the virtual rabbit hole convinced of their imminent death can attest—are fairly clear; a simple search can quickly become an experience that haunts the dreams of many a hypochondriac.

Even so, plenty of people regularly turn to the World Wide Web as a first-line medical resource. As Julie Beck has previously noted on this site, 72 percent of Americans have looked online for health information sometime in the past year, while one in three Americans has self-diagnosed a health problem with the help of the Internet. And doctors are following in their patients' footsteps, too: A full 50 percent of physicians turn to Wikipedia for health information, and some are active editors of the site as well.

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