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“The National Library of Medicine offers a tutorial to the public to help evaluate the health information you find on the web,” said Huh.
“The tutorial reminds you to look for evidence backing medical claims and other tips for validating information.”Huh says that Google does a good job of filtering out forums with bad reputations.
“These users included ‘caretakers, opportunists, scientists and adventurers’.”Huh explained that caretakers cite emotional support as a high value in visiting these communities.
Caretakers can be senior forum users who welcome and initiate new participants and provide emotional support as informal moderators.
When like-minded users come together online, they often form virtual health communities in which they share intimate details of their diagnoses, treatments and coping mechanisms.
Some become active users who post comments daily; others simply scan the conversations but never post.
Below is a list of warning signs that may indicate your child's safety is at risk online.
In some instances, children may stumble upon inappropriate images or fall victim to other online users -- including both adults and children -- who are seeking to use, exploit, or intimidate them.
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Adventurers are looking for cutting-edge information or tips on alternate therapies and treatments, such as off-label drug uses not offered by their clinicians or local hospitals.
Huh’s advice to newly diagnosed patients who are seeking an online resource for peer support is to investigate the websites of non-profit organizations.