Quality Varies In Social Networking Websites For Diabetics
Almost one-half of U.S. adults who use the Internet participate in social networks such as Facebook and MySpace and other community networks that are health related there is not enough information about the site or the people who run them to say that they are in safe and provide quality information for diabetics.
In one of the first formal studies of social networking websites that target diabetics, researchers in the Children's Hospital Boston Informatics Program performed an in-depth evaluation of ten Diabetic websites.
The Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, only fifty percent of the sites offered content consistent with diabetes science and up to date clinical practices. “Even fewer of the networking sites offered both scientific accuracy and patient protections such as safeguarding of personal health information, effective internal and external review processes and appropriate advertising.”
For example, seven of the ten sites that were evaluated did not allow members to control the visibility of their profiles. Five carried advertisements that were not labeled as an advertisement, which can mislead visitors. In addition, three sites went as far as to advertise unfounded "cures" for diabetes. Says Elissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, lead author on the study and an assistant professor in the laboratory of Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH. "They are eager to accelerate their understanding of the disease, obtain support, find treatments and see if their experience is common or different."
In conclusion, a large majority of the health-related network sites did not include a "disclaimer" encouraging patients to discuss their questions, concerns and health care with their doctors.