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Finding Reliable Health Information: Social Networks

A brief how-to guide from the librarians at The University of South Dakota and Wegner Center's Health Sciences Libraries. This guide is designed for the general public.

Online Patient Communities

Daily Strength
A social networking site which allows you to create a profile including status updates, goals, and a journal. Users can "friend" each other, participate in discussions, give advice, and give "hugs". Also includes online support groups and wellness blogs written by experts.

MedHelp
Inlcudes Medical Support Communities, Ask a Doctor Forums, information from the A.D.A.M. medical encyclopedia, and personal journals.

Patients Like Me
A combination of a social networking site, online forums, and personal health tracker. Patients can track their condition, symptoms, and treatments and invite caregivers to view their information. Topics are fairly limited.

Inspire 
Another social networking site with support groups for a wide variety of topics.

Searching for Online Communities

There are many different types of onlines communities and it is important to use a variety of keywords in your search in order to find the specific type of community that you are looking for.

Sample Google searches:

Once you find an online community that you are interested, spend some time reading the messages and "lurking" until you get a sense of how supportive the community members are, whether they seem to have another agenda, and how quickly responses are given.

Remember, you can always remain anonymous in an online community. Create an alternate name that you use and leave out any identifying details such as where you live and work.

Associations

Many associations offer a variety of online tools for patients to share information with one another. Some examples include:

American Cancer Online Resources Mailing Lists

American Diabetes Association Message Boards

National Alliance on Mental Illness Communities

Yahoo! and Google Groups

There are many Yahoo and Google email groups that are focused on the exchange of health information. You do not need to use Yahoo or Google email to participate in these groups.

Yahoo Health and Wellness Groups

Google Groups

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