Medical Research (and how to do it)
THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT RESEARCHING MEDICAL INFORMATION. IF YOU WANT TO RESEARCH INFORMATION ABOUT A PRESCRIPTION DRUG, CLICK HERE.
The amount of medical information that is currently available can be overwhelming. Before starting medical research, keep the following mind.
- The internet is a source of good information. This makes it a good source to help you be an informed consumer before making medical decisions. On the other hand, the internet also has information that is self serving and information that is incorrect.
- Keep your goals and personality in mind. It is easy to get diverted to information that doesn't apply to you.
- Are the basics enough?
- Does a lot of information send you into overload?
- Can you keep in mind that statistics indicate what has happened to large numbers of people historically and that they do not predict the future?
- Do you assume that worst case situations is what will happen to you?
- Keep in mind:
- That information does not predict what will happen to any particular individual.
- The old adage: trust but verify.
- Do not look to the internet for a diagnosis.When it comes to a diagnosis, it is preferable to seek the opinion of a doctor or other health professional.
There are a variety of sources where you can obtain medical information. Sources to consider are the following, each of which are discussed in detail in another section of this article:
- Your doctor or hospital
- A pharmacist
- Disease specific non-profits
- Support groups
- The Federal government
- The Internet
If you or a friend/family member do not want to conduct medical research yourself, there are research services available. For more information, click here.
Using Information Wisely
- It is advisable to keep track of all questions that come up from your research. Also keep track of information you learn about your condition, a drug, a treatment or a complementary treatment. (We provide a "Prioritizer" where you can keep track of your questions. Before you go to your appointmet, you can prioritize the questions in order of your preference.)
- If you come across articles that are of interest, check the information with your doctor. Consider send the articles ahead of time by e mail or snail mail if there is time so your doctor has a chance to consider the information and perhaps do some additional research before you appointment. If you do not send the article ahead of time, take a copy for the doctor with you. NOTE: It is advisable to limit the articles you show your doctor to a maximum of 3 at any one appointment.
- Ask your doctor your questions and always bring to his or her attention new information. Your doctor will help you determine each of the following:
- Reliability of the particular information.
- Whether the information applies to you.
- If the information does apply to you, how it applies.
Strong emotions are likely to surface as you do research. There are tips to keep them in check. Don't let them keep you from learning what you need to know about your condition or possible treatments.
Survivorship A to Z helps you keep track of questions or information to talk to your doctor about. See "To Learn More."