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Is Social Networking Changing the Face of Medicine?
Date:6/8/2011

papers, to educate themselves.

In the study, published in Social Science & Medicine, researchers analyzed postings on five breast cancer discussion boards the month after the recommendations were released.

Barker anticipates that the clash they saw between medical professionals presenting hard statistics and patients voicing their personal feelings about one treatment or another will continue to occur for all sorts of conditions.

"This kind of social dynamic is going to change the face of medicine," Barker said.

Pitfalls to the rapid exchange of information are also likely, these experts said. Incorrect medical material can be passed around as quickly as correct information, and it's not always easy for people reading it to tell the difference, they said.

"The downside is that people are able to spread rumor as quickly as they are able to spread information, and social networks are again the perfect mechanism for spreading both," Fox said.

More information

For more about mammography, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

SOURCES: Kristin K. Barker, Ph.D., sociologist, Oregon State University, Corvallis; Susannah Fox, associate director, Pew Research Center's Internet & American life Project, Washington D.C.; Social Science & Medicine, 2011


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