Are People More Willing to Share Health Information Due to Social Media?

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I think we've seen a completely new level of connectivity. That's attributable to all of these technologies, going all the way back to the internet. And those early days of the internet spond, whole series of innovations in access to information, websites that made available clinical information to patients who could now look up at a condition, learn more about the physiologic state and read up on that condition, and come to their clinical appointment much more informed than perhaps if they would have had to go to a library and find a text book, and go through that process.

All the way from that to now being able to discuss these complex situations with some degree of anonymity, where you can talk frankly in a large community of individuals. The challenge here however, is we talked sometimes about crowd-sourcing wisdom and crowd-sourcing information, and I'd like to say that there are caveats, there are issues of being able to triangulate the truth from these massive now influxes of information.

There is a tremendous amount of misinformation that circulates widely now through these pipes that we've created, and I think there is a caveat emptor where we have to make sure people are given the tools to digest what is accurate and inaccurate in terms of information. It's been a source of substantial frustration in for example, the vaccine world.

Vaccines being one of the most powerful tools that we have available to us as public health practitioners, reducing the burden of mortality and disease globally. But yet, the scope of expansion of misinformation about vaccines has really been a source of substantial frustration to the public health community, where we're currently mounting efforts to try to figure out how do we engage in that public discourse? How do we inject elements of valid information into a conversation that's now largely disconnected? And I think bringing this back to the conservation about e-health and m-health really we're talking not just about the developed world now, it's Facebook and social media.

As we've seen with the Arabs Spring in the past few years is not limited to North America and Europe. It's global. So this kind of rapid spread of information is a global phenomenon and it won't be long before we start seeing these kinds of medical communities, start seeing health information being being exchanged outside of the sphere of the well guarded sort of clinical and public health community.