Editorials

Are virtual communities good for our health?

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7547.925 (Published 20 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:925
  1. Alejandro R Jadad, professor, chair, and chief innovator (ajadad@ehealthinnovation.org),
  2. Murray W Enkin, emeritus professor and consultant,
  3. Sholom Glouberman, philosopher in residence,
  4. Philip Groff, director, research and evaluation,
  5. Anita Stern, doctoral degree candidate
  1. Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 2C4
  2. Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 2C4
  3. Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Toronto, M6A 2E1
  4. SMARTRISK, Toronto, M5G 1N8
  5. Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L8

    They seem to be good at managing chaotic information—and may have other virtues too

    The last decade of the 20th century will be remembered as the period when, perhaps for the first time in history, humans became overloaded by the hyperproduction and hyperdispersion of health information. From that point on, practically anyone with an internet account and access to a personal computer could adopt the role that a few years before had been reserved to professional editors, publishers, journalists, librarians, and academics.1 Ways of coping with this flood of information clearly need to change, and a paper in this week's BMJ suggests that they are changing (p 939)2—and in ways that challenge the established order within health systems.3

    Health professionals are just as incapable of handling the increased flow of information as the public, despite their access to tools and techniques for evidence based decision making.4 Tools to assess the “quality” of information have been tried many times, unsuccessfully5; uncoordinated efforts to create “one stop shops,” seals …

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