There are many different angles to look at this particular subject because while ultimately on the surface it is helpful to exchange experiences and advice there are those who may not benefit as much as others.
We have seen a significant increase in the number of diabetes websites over the last few years as the medical condition continues to grab the attention of the worldwide media. These are very interesting information exchanges for those concerned about developing diabetes, concerned about a friend or family member struggling to cope with diabetes or for general information purposes.
The benefits of talking online
While many of us may chat face-to-face with fellow diabetics, very often some of the information which we obtain can be forgotten unless it is written down. It can often be difficult to take in all of the information offered in one go and perhaps this is where forums and similar styled websites come to the fore.
The fact is that any comments or any information published on a diabetes forum, using diabetes as an example, will remain there for ever and a day unless it is removed by the administrators of the website for any legal reasons or perhaps there is concern about the accuracy of the information. This therefore allows members of forums to return time and time again, at their own convenience, to reread and look over information and comments which have been posted.
Self policing forums
One of the main concerns about lifestyle and medical forums is the fact that sometimes misinformation or uninformed information can be posted inadvertently. While this is potentially dangerous in some situations, if we flip a coin it can also allow those with more in-depth knowledge of diabetes for example to correct any myths which may be out there.
The truth is that the more popular diabetes forums have individuals with direct or indirect medical knowledge, direct or indirect experience of diabetes and those who have perhaps been involved in research programmes. Therefore the likelihood is that any misinformation will very quickly be corrected by those more informed members of the forum and perhaps put at rest the minds of those who had themselves believed the inaccurate posts.
This can also give more qualified individuals the chance to go more in-depth into specific issues because an understanding of conditions such as diabetes does in many ways lift the veil of secrecy and concern surrounding the matter. The more popular a diabetes forum becomes the more chance of uninformed or misinformation being spotted very quickly and where perhaps there is a risk of people taking action on the back of misinformation these post will be removed – or at worst corrected.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes your first concern will probably be about how this will impact your life and, while many people prefer not to discuss this, how this may impact your death. The reality today is that there are sufficient treatments available for type I diabetes and type II diabetes to allow the vast majority of individuals to carry on their life as normal. Speaking to somebody who has been there, done it and bought the T-shirt can very often put your mind at rest and can also make you more aware of relatively small tweaks to your life which could reduce the impact of diabetes and improve your lifestyle going forward.
There are some people who prefer to do their own research, prefer not to swap experiences and maybe sit in the background trying to take it all in. There is a very thin line between scaring people with potential problems associated with diabetes and allowing them to find their own feet and rebuild their lives again. Scare tactics can in some situations backfire spectacularly and therefore the swapping of detailed experiences may not be for everybody.
One matter which has become more evident over the last few years in particular is the ever-growing number of research programmes into diabetes, both treatments and potential cures, which can very quickly spread like wildfire amongst the more popular diabetes forums. Such is the amount of information available in the wider market today that some of these research programmes can actually give people hope for the future and improve their mental attitude going forward.
It would be incorrect to say that all research programmes lead to an improvement in treatments or indeed a potential cure for diabetes going forward but even those “less successful” research programmes can often revealing hidden gems which could lead to more research in the future. There is hope for diabetics, there are a large number of research programmes ongoing at the moment and the fact is that governments around the world are now beginning to panic and channel significant funding into this particular area.
A number of diabetics have also used various forums on the Internet to become directly involved in research programmes. This perfectly illustrates how diabetes forums can have a practical impact upon research into this particular condition going forward and allow those involved in trials to play a proactive role. This plentiful supply of willing individuals is very important to the research industry although this is perhaps overlooked by many people who are involved in diabetes forums.
The reality with regards to for example diabetesforum.com is that because it is so popular, with a large number of members who regularly post on the website, misinformation and untruths are very quickly spotted and corrected. A forum is only as good as the administrators and members actively involved in discussing issues, swapping experiences and giving their opinion on various subjects and, rather bizarrely, even incorrect information can give those more informed posters the chance to correct myths and untruths.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.