How to research a difficult health topic
Researching a difficult topic
When a health crisis affects us or someone we care about, it can be tempting to jump onto the internet to learn more about it. But doing this too much can lead to unhealthy worry, as we click link after link and read page after page of contradicting information. Even worse, we may look up the symptoms and find terrible stories from other patients.
It may feel overwhelming to see these types of things. You may feel alone, sad, or afraid. When you have a question and cannot immediately ask a doctor or care provider, it can feel stressful and hugely difficult to simply ‘sit with it’ until you can speak to a care provider.
Everyone benefits from breathing.
And if your learning style benefits from print research, here’s a printed word version of three breathing exercises.
Keeping calm in a time of worry.
Your worries come from a place of real concern, and these concerns deserve real answers. The internet and all its information are only a tool to move you towards those answers. It is NOT the answer itself.
Remember to take breaks from your research.
Your doctor and team of care providers are the ones who have the best knowledge about YOU (or the one you love) and your individual situation.
Remember that you are unique.
Comparing yourself to others over the web is not apples to apples – it’s more like apples to puppies. Your circumstances are completely unique. Give yourself a little grace, as your worries (along with all the other feelings!) are natural. There’s no need to add to them unnecessarily.
One way to start a productive conversation with your doctor is to review information only from known, reliable sources, such as the CDC. Look up information, write down some notes or questions and bring them to your next visit with your doctor, and make sure you really understand the answers. If you don’t understand, ask more questions. You have the right to make informed choices about your care (or the care of your loved one) and being well informed and on the same page as your doctor will move you in the right direction.
Postscript: If you are ready for some serious research be sure to read this article by a medical researcher on best practices for medical research online. And before you go, don’t forget to browse our selection of useful health articles.