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Medical Research 101

Summary

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The amount of medical information currently available on the internet is truly astounding. Reliable information that a few years ago was only accessible to doctors and other healthcare professionals is now available to anyone with a mouse, keypad and an Internet connection. However, the Internet contains a lot of outdated and even false information.  When it comes to health, misinformation can be deadly. It is critical to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff when searching for medical information.*

Consider the following tips:

  • Keep your goals and personality in mind. It is easy to get diverted to information that doesn't apply to you.
    • Are the basics enough?
    • Does a lot of information send you into overload?
    • Can you keep in mind that statistics indicate what has happened to large numbers of people historically and that they do not predict the future or what happens to any particular individual?
    • Do you assume that worst case situations is what will happen to you?
  • Know what to look for when doing medical research
    • For a checklist of factors to help determine reliability of information on a particular site, click here.
    • For a checklist to help determine reliability of a particular study, click here.
  • For a list of excellent sites to use as a starting point for:
    • Medical research, click here.
    • Medications, click here.
  • Before relying on information from a website, check  the reliability of the site. To learn how, see: A Check List To Determine Reliability Of Information On A Web Site
  • Keep in mind that the internet is not the only place to do medical research. There are a variety of sources where you can obtain medical information. Sources to consider, as well as pointers about each, are discussed in another section of this article.
  • Also keep in mind the old adage: trust but verify.
  • Do not look to the internet for a diagnosis. When it comes to a diagnosis, it is preferable to seek the opinion of a doctor or other health professional.

If you would prefer to hire a company to do medical research (including all the treatments available for your situation) see: Medical Research Services

NOTE: For free, Medivizor offsite link provides personalized health information about cutting-edge research, treatment options, relevant clinical trials, and more, specifically for the user's situation. It also provides free updates.

Using Information Wisely

  • Keep track of what you learn and all questions that come up from your research.  Before you go to your next medical appointment, it is advisable to prioritize your questions in order of your preference so you at least cover the ones that are most important to you. (We provide a "Prioritizer" where you can keep track of your questions. Before you go to your next medical appointment,  you can reorder your questions with the touch of a button.)
  • Ask your doctor your questions and always bring to his or her attention new information. Your doctor will help you determine each of the following:
    • Reliability of the particular information.
    • Whether the information applies to you. If the information does apply to you, how it applies.
  • If you come across articles that are of interest: Consider sending the articles to your doctor before the next appointment so your doctor has a chance to consider the information and perhaps do some additional research before you appointment. If you do not send the article ahead of time, take a copy for the doctor with you. NOTE: It is advisable to limit the articles you show your doctor to a maximum of 3 at any one appointment. 

Strong emotions are likely to surface as you do research. There are tips to keep them in check. Don't let them keep you from learning what you need to know about your condition or possible treatments. To learn how to cope with emotions, click here

* For more information, see: Pros and cons about researching on the internet, 


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