With a growing number of diabetics using social network websites to find out more about their condition, a warning has been issued in the US about the number of these sites that are not properly secure or are of low quality. The Children’s Hospital Boston Informatics Program conducted a study of social networking websites that target patients, and have issued a range of safety tips.
The website review, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Associatio, revealed that there were significant variations regarding safety and quality across the different sites, with only around half offering content that was consistent with current diabetes science and clinical practice .
In addition, less than that number provided offered both scientific accuracy and patient protections, including safeguarding personal health information, proper review processes and appropriate advertising.
Elissa Weitzma, lead author on the study, commented “We saw that people are sharing incredible amounts of personal health information on these sites, including highly identifiable information. They are eager to accelerate their understanding of the disease, obtain support, find treatments and see if their experience is common or different.”
The advice offered on using online social networks focused on such areas as ensuring they provide a basic description of diabetes and its care consistent with that from your doctor, they do not advertise so-called miracle cures, there is a rigorous privacy policy in place, and that you have full control over your health information.

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