Quality of Diabetes Social Networking Sites Varies

Improvement needed on voluntary, consumer-driven sites to ensure accuracy, safety of info

FRIDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The quality and safety of diabetes social networking (SN) sites vary, but observed better practice indicates that improvement is possible, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Elissa R. Weitzman, Sc.D., from the Children's Hospital of Boston, and colleagues evaluated the quality and safety of 10 diabetes-focused SN sites to determine their value to both patients and clinicians. They looked at a total of 28 quality and safety indicators.

The researchers found that 50 percent of the sites followed diabetes science and clinical practice recommendations, although there were gaps in medical disclaimer use. They found that the safety of information was mixed, with gaps in external and internal review approaches. Although 20 percent used audits and association links, 70 percent used moderation. They found misinformation about a diabetes "cure" on four sites, and three sites enabled members to control their personal information. Overall, 30 percent of the sites demonstrated better practice.

"The voluntary nature of SN, its disconnection from institutional authorities, and its alignment with patient/consumer-driven models and philosophies may seem to reduce our obligation for protective action to improve quality and support safety. Nevertheless, actionable steps for improving quality and protecting populations made vulnerable by illness are warranted," the authors write.

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