Inside the Health Blogosphere: Quality, Governance and the New Innovation Leaders
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:e-Health | Social Media & Social Software
Research has shown that "Health 2.0" - that is, user-generated health information often featuring blogging (i.e., self-publishing) or collaborative editing tools known as wikis - is increasingly popular among health professionals, chronic disease sufferers and the general public (Giustini 2007; Seeman 2008). However, concerns persist over the alleged inaccuracy, bias and poor governance of self-published health websites, or blogs, where an author’s entries are usually placed in chronological order, much like a diary (Wikipedia 2008a).
Prominent members of the lay media have voiced criticisms of blogs. For example, one leading Canadian journalist recently noted in The Globe and Mail that "reporters who are trained and paid to do the often dry work of gathering facts and interviewing people ... provide the news stories, and the news sites gather them up and the bloggers comment on them" (Smith 2008, April 3). This statement implies that reporters are more skilled, credentialed and objective; bloggers, it suggests, are mere commentators. In the context of health information, however, the research presented concludes that health blogs are positive tools that create meaningful, informed news and exchange for consumers and health professionals - at a level that exceeds the quality of popular newspapers. Expert health bloggers, that is, credentialed editors with subject matter expertise (subject matter experts, or SMEs), influence the course of opinion within professional and chronic illness communities rapidly and, as such, are innovation leaders.