The fact that the use of the Internet to investigate health related issues is on the rise, cannot be disputed. However, is this good or bad?
One concern is that seeing a health professional is becoming more expensive, so people are turning to the internet to diagnose their own medical condition. Unfortunately, while there are many sites that are provided by health professionals and give accurate information, there are just as many sites posted by lay people sharing their experiences, and commercial companies advertising their products. The concern here is that a person may misdiagnose their condition and therefore not receive the correct treatment (Lewis, 2006).
On the other hand, once a condition has been diagnosed by a medical profession, the availability of information on the internet is allowing people to research their condition. This often gives an option for alternative treatments and helps an individual to more fully understand their condition.
The recognised Australian Obesity crisis is another area where the internet is becoming effective. Many dietitian approved weight loss programs are appearing that are free and easy to follow. Two of these are Channel Ten’s “1 Million Kilo Challenge” and “The Biggest Loser” (Network Ten, 2011). “Weight Watchers” online is another relatively cheap, but effective program (Weight Watchers, 2012).
If used subjectively, the internet definitely has a place in health related issues.
Lewis, T. (2006). “Seeking Health Information on the internet: Lifestyle choice or bad attack of cyberchondria?” Media, Culture and Society, 28 (4): 521-539.
Network Ten. “The Biggest Loser Australia.” Last Modified December 1st 2011. http://thebiggestloser.com.au/
Weight Watchers. “Weight Watchers Australia and New Zealand.” Last Modified March 23rd 2012. http://www.weightwatchers.com.au/index.aspx
1 Million Kilo Challenge. “1 Million Kilo Challenge.” Last Modified January 12th 2012. http://www.1millionkilochallenge.com.au/home