Social networking: Changing the Face of Medicine

Thanks goes to the folks at #ACFAS for spotting this article from Jenifer Goodwin at HealthDay News (Link)

The response of breast cancer survivors to 2009 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations that women in their 40s did not need routine mammograms, using e-mail, social networking sites, and electronic bulletin boards to express their anger, reflects the impact that social networking is having on medicine. Not long after the issuance of the guidelines, women organized on message boards and submitted petitions to lawmakers, and neither federal health insurance programs nor private insurance companies lowered their mammogram coverage for women in their 40s, which is proof that the outcry affected policy, according to Oregon State University sociologist Kristin K. Barker. “People have their own health experience and they have often been suspicious of medicine, but you get a lot of people together with their own experiences that contradict medical advice, and it becomes a very potent social force,” she observes. Along with young people, women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are among the most likely to employ social networking sites, says Susannah Fox with the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. She reports that many who post on message boards for breast cancer or other conditions are doing more than simply venting; they are investigating, sometimes reading source material to educate themselves.

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