A message from the coordinator
Diana Norton, RN, MSN
Several months ago, the Oregon Pain Management Commission began asking people to tell the commission about their pain issues through a link on this Web site (note: link no longer active). The Department of Human Services distributed a news release about the site which ran in a few local papers around the state, but otherwise the commission did very little to publicize it.
That's why I was surprised to see the significant number of responses we received from individuals with pain, family members and healthcare professionals. Comments have come primarily from Oregon, but nationwide as well.
It has made me realize just how many individuals with medical issues, including chronic pain, use the Internet to share experiences and seek information about conditions and treatment options; or perhaps they're just looking for a sense of community.
In our high-tech world, this isn't new or particularly startling. But those individuals affected by pain can often find themselves isolated in many ways, and for many reasons. The Internet is a logical and useful resource.
In performing the duties of my position, I also use the Internet regularly to obtain information and share it with others. Because this information primarily relates to health care, I'm sometimes concerned about the information's accuracy and its source's reliability.
Recently, (yes, while surfing the Internet) I found a useful article in the September 8, 2006, U.S. News and World Report. The article was directed specifically to those living with pain conditions and gave several tips for seeking and considering information found on the Web.
I would like to share those tips with you now, in hopes they may be of value to you as well. When looking at health-related information, ask yourself these questions:
Who is sponsoring the Web site? This may not always be easy to detect at first glance, but find out. Would that company or individual have a stake in what information is being shared? This is not to say the information is necessarily bad, but potential bias is something to consider when weighing facts.
How current is the information? Medical treatments, drugs, and research findings can rapidly change. Make certain the information is from a recent publication and not outdated material.
Can the source of information be easily determined? Make certain you know whether an article is fact or opinion. Facts should be accompanied by a reputable source. You should be able to readily find the article or journal to verify the reference and find out more if needed.
Is the information clear and easy to understand? Is the material and language too technical? If a reader lacks proper background or training, some information may lead to added confusion or worse, misunderstanding. When seeking clinical information, look for material that is clear in its message.
We have posted a list of online resources on this Web site. I hope they will provide you with some useful links. Your comments are also welcomed through our Web link to the Pain Management Commission.
The Internet can be a tremendous resource for individuals with chronic pain. The general message here is to stay informed, keep your voice active and surf smart.