According to a December 2007 iCrossing survey cited by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn in her Health Populi blog “34% of Americans turn to social media for health research.”
Jane points to PatientsLikeMe and others as “proof of the reality of social media in health is alive and well and healing”, and observes that “increasing numbers of people are reaching out to others for more than the kind of support they might have found in the Compuserve health interest groups in the 1980s; they’re finding practical solutions to chronic health challenges”
Interesting reading, especially her response to one commenter that “In the case of info for PatientsLikeMe, the database on drug dosing, quality of life and outcomes throughout the MS cycle is probably richer than any other single source on the globe”.
Over the past seven months of working at PatientsLikeMe, I’ve come to think that the idea of sharing medical and health information is completely normal. Since giving birth to my nearly 3 year old daughter, I have continued to be eternally grateful to other mothers who have willingly and openly shared their deeply personal experiences and advice so readily. There are some unexpected things you have to deal with, and nothing is so helpful as the wisdom of others who’ve been there. Then this December, I had a moment of pause. All of us at the company received a year-end gift of 23andMe‘s Personal Genome Service. Here was my chance to find out what my genes have in store for me and to find out what I might have passed onto my little girl. But do I really want to know? And once I find out, do I want share that information?
Well, it took a while to decide and I hadn’t expected that. I realized that deciding to put very personal details about my health, current or future, out into the world is no small thing. I commend each and every person who has chosen to share their information in our PatientsLikeMe communities. I wouldn’t have made it this far into motherhood without the nitty-gritty, honest information that other mothers have shared with me, and I’ve been truly and deeply inspired by the information that people have so willing shared on our site. I would certainly want access to that knowledge and experience if I needed it. But, if I want to have access to that kind of information, then I have to do my part too. So in the end, I decided to spit. Now I’m waiting to find out what my genes have in store for me and my family. Openness, here I come.