Today I will tell you about the book Is it Serious? How to Search for Health Information on the Internet by Burton Paul. I did not find any negative points in the book, so this ‘review’ may appear to be a summary of what this book is about.
The initial several pages of the book stress the advantages of gathering health information from the internet. Note that this book will neither offer treatment to your ailment nor will even diagnose it for you. It only tries to help you become an informed patient, and encourages you to take control of your health and treatment. While the book deals with medical conditions, it also includes resources and precautions for people who are in general health conscious. Throughout the book the writer Burton Paul stresses the importance of consulting a doctor and not rely on the online resources alone.
To ward off any skepticism, Paul gives analogy of a vehicle. There are risks and dangers associated with driving a car, but that does not stop you from driving one. In the same way, if you are careful, take sufficient precautions and are a responsible user, then the internet would prove to be a very useful resource for obtaining health-related information. On the other hand, he tries to persuade the doctors to encourage their patients in exploring this resource and not discourage them. In his opinion, it certainly helps when the patients are better informed and actively participate in the treatment process. After all it does make them more responsible, and they would see why the doctor is recommending a certain diet or lifestyle change.
Social media and forums could be used to interact with people who have gone through the same or a similar ailment or treatment process. This way the patients would get to know what to expect in the course of their treatment and may also get emotional support. Then there are people who are shy by nature and do not want to bother the doctor with too many queries. The doctors, especially in my country, are in general overwhelmed and are not in a position to give a lot of time to each patient. It helps when the patient has done a basic survey on the internet and visits the doctor with full information and doubts to be clarified.
At the same time, Paul stresses that every doctor has gone through a long process of education and practice, of around 10 years or so, and therefore is in the best position to help you. However large information you gather from the internet, you should show respect to the education and qualification of the doctor. Throughout the book Paul maintains this balance between recommendations to the patient and the doctor, and gives suggestions on how both of them can explore this resource together.
The major contents of the book are: how to search for credible and accurate health information on the internet (chapter 5), a listing of useful websites (chapter 6), information on drugs, brands and generics (chapter 9), emergency and first aid (chapter 10), getting information while caring for someone else (chapter 11), importance and limitations of social media (chapter 12), general healthy living (chapter 13), pharmaceutical companies (chapter 14), and role of patient opinion leaders (chapter 15).
But how far is it going to be helpful? In the final pages of the book, Paul classifies people into four generations — those born between 1945-1964, 1965-1980, 1980-2000, and after 2000. The first two generations give more importance to doctors and pay regular visit to them; they access the internet with a primary aim of gathering basic information about their medical condition. However, the other two categories have grown up with the internet and give more importance to it than a personal visit to a doctor. In fact, the patients in the fourth category visit doctors only when they cannot find treatment or diagnosis on the internet. So it is easy to see that in the coming decades, the reliance on internet for health information would continue to grow.
This is a good and valuable resource. If you and your family is maintaining good health, that is indeed good; still, you should keep a copy of this book in your bookshelf.
I found only one editing mistake, and have informed the publisher about the same. Otherwise the book is flawless.
Title: Is it Serious? How to Search for Health Information on the Internet
Author: Burton Paul
Publisher: Burton Paul Ltd
Print length: 160 pages
Price (Paperback): 8.99 GBP
Price (eBook): 3.49 GBP
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