Essay: The practicality of using Wiki to find health information

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  • Published on: January 22, 2019
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  • The practicality of using Wiki to find health information
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Different sources have tried to put across the significance of the internet in the field of medicine. Human beings are no longer depending solely on the physical medics for their health matters that include consultations. This essay shall concentrate on the relationship among three sources, one written by Boyd, Younger, and the other one Te Poel et al. However, this essay begins by discussing how Younger and Te Poel et al. relate to each other.
In his article, Younger explores the usefulness of Wiki as a source of health information. Younger says that one can edit content on some wikis whereas others require that only specialized groups or individuals with relevant credentials can register, log in with a password and edit the content. Younger has not specified the category of people who visit the internet regularly which Te Poel et al. does. Te Poel et al. clarifies this category of people by stating that people with high degree of health anxiety do more inquiries about health issues than those with low-level health anxiety. According to the study done by Te Poel, health anxious individuals become more distressed and worried due to the impact of health information they acquire from the internet regularly. From these two sources, it is clear that internet health information seeking is inevitable. Younger points out that experts upload information on wiki while Te Poel et al. show that anxious health seekers involve themselves more in searching for the information. The two sources show the seriousness with which health information is sought and prepared.

Younger also notes that health information found on the internet is meant for public consumption but not for fellow medical experts. An example of that kind of wiki is ‘AskDrWiki and ganfyd’ meant for the audience in the US. This is demonstrated by the simple language, illustrations, and references that do not confuse the average reader. In short, a layperson’s language is employed. Younger further states that it is not easy to find nursing wikis. However, he, as well, gives hope that there are a few medical wikis that may offer background health information to experts. Te Poel et al. source does not discuss the target audience of internet health information deeply but from the study, it can allude that the target is generally the people with health queries. Te Poel et al. puts more emphasis on the level of health anxiety. This source shows that there are factors that prompt people to seek health information. From the above discussion, it can be said that these two sources indicate the target of health information that is posted online.

Dana Boyd in her article ‘Did Media Literacy Backfire?’ says that it is better to understand the reliability of a source of information as a basis for media literacy. Boyd, moreover, insists on the credibility of an information source through critical scrutiny by students (or readers). The person (s) writing or editing health information should be an expert in the field. Younger also adds on this when he notes that it will be helpful to check the trustworthiness of a wiki if it is Health on the Net certified (HON). This is the reason why Younger explains why some health wikis are controlled by a group of specialized individuals. Te Poel et al.’s study does not focus on the sources of internet health information. Their research revolves around reasons behind information seeking and this leaves an information gap compared to the other two writings. Boyd and Younger illustrate the importance of trusting a source because it will be easy to reference what you trust. This means that internet health information cannot mislead a reader and readers need not to shy away from getting appropriate information for their health inquiries.

Boyd says that in the process of people searching for health information on the internet, they tend to trust their experience at the cost of expertise. Boyd, in her explanation, implies that people find it hard to trust physical doctors because they have become ‘arrogant’ and less caring. She gives this as a reason for people to look for health information on the internet. Te Poel et al. provides a new perspective by stating that it is the level of health anxiety that influences people to search for internet health information. Te Poel et al. gives a good reason because it is difficult for people who are not interested in health information to search for the same.

In summary, Younger, Boyd, and Te Poel et al. all discuss the significance of internet health information but Boyd and Te Poel et al. give details on why people prefer seeking health information on the internet. Younger talks more of information sharing through wikis which are mostly done by medical specialists. Both Te Poel et al. and Younger give new points of view why people look for health information which is for easing health anxiety and information sharing respectively.

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