Friday, July 24, 2009

Where do you get your health care information?

If you have a friend or relative who's a doctor or other healthcare professional, you probably ask that person. (I remember getting questions as early as my first semester of medical school, when I was completely unequipped to respond to the simplest of questions, such as what to take for a common cold - though even fully qualified physicians often prescribe unnecessary antibiotics in this situation, as ER physician Zachary Meisel explains.)

Perhaps the most consulted source of clinical information online is the venerable WebMD. But there are other sites that are nearly as good, including FamilyDoctor.org, sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians. These websites are becoming increasingly sophisticated, often featuring podcasts and other interactive features in addition to traditional, static educational handouts.

So who or what is your most trusted source of information when you or a friend or relative falls ill? Your family doctor? Your internist? The paramedic you sometimes shoot pool with on Friday nights? Or an "alternative" health provider such as a chiropractor or acupuncturist? I plan to discuss complementary and alternative medicine in depth in a future posting, but for now I'd like to hear from you.

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