Paging Dr. Reddit: More people turn to social media for STD advice

  
Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one week ago  •  13 comments

By:   Erika Edwards

Paging Dr. Reddit: More people turn to social media for STD advice
Reddit's STD community has more than 10,000 members, many searching for answers about their health.

Are you telling me that the members of NT don't know enough about STD's to give out advice? Try harder! 


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


"Feeling paranoid about that one night stand? Condom broke? Got some scary blood results back?" read the details for the popular Reddit community   r/STDs .

The community encourages its more than 10,000 members to share stories, concerns and questions about   sexually transmitted diseases   — and according to a study published Tuesday, they have increasingly done so. But opting for a "crowd diagnosis," instead of one from a doctor, can put patients and their partners at risk.

Since the subreddit — as the community pages are called — was created in November 2010, there have been nearly 17,000 posts. According to the study, published in the   Journal of the American Medical Association , the number of posts significantly increased over time, from just eight in 2010 to 3,375 in 2018.

The posts often include candid pictures of worrisome bumps, lumps and redness on or around their genitals.

"Help! What is this? Is this herpes?" one post reads. Others seek out second opinions after they've already been to the doctor. "My results showed 'HIV-1 Confirmation.' I have to go back and get another test but I'm wondering is the doc wrong, do you think I have   HIV "?

In the study, the researchers focused on a random sampling of 500 posts. More than half — 58 percent — asked the site's members for a   diagnosis . Nearly a third of those included photos of the apparent STD in question.

Anyone who signs up as a member can respond. The majority of requests got answers quickly, usually within three hours, the study found. Nearly 80 percent of requests were answered in less than one day.

Despite the potential for incorrect or even dangerous medical advice, the revelation that people are asking for help with sexually transmitted diseases online may present doctors with an opportunity to find those in need, and who may be falling through health care cracks.

"People want real interactions with real people, and they can get that on social media," said John Ayers, the study's author and vice chief of innovation at University of California, San Diego. And instead of trying to corral patients away from Reddit and back into the clinic, experts should "go to them and help them."

"Society is not going to change to match the strategy that we as the experts have. We need to pivot. And one way we can pivot is responding to crowd diagnosis," Ayers told NBC News.

Outside experts agreed.

The study "forces us to acknowledge the world that our patients live in," said Dr. Jessica Rose, a clinical assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Health in New York City. "It's not as simple as what the textbook says."

Rose, who was not involved in the new research, suggested it's physicians who need to alter care to meet the needs of a generation seemingly more comfortable sharing sensitive health concerns online than in a doctor's office.

"Why do our patients not trust us? Why are they trusting these masses who may or may not have medical education?" she asked.

Crowd diagnosis may also provide a level of comfort, while reputable websites like that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may feel more clinical, sexual health experts said.

"Many websites with great information don't seem as user-friendly when you are scared and it is 3 a.m.," said Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB-GYN and author of "The Vagina Bible."

"Medical jargon is great for academic publications, but when we communicate with the public we need to listen to what they are asking and also learn how they can best receive that information," Gunter told NBC News.

Ayers said that there's an opportunity for doctors to partner with social media platforms to find   people in need of medical attention , triage them and refer them to reputable and user-friendly resources.

"Imagine if we were doing that across social media looking for all sorts of conditions, what kind of positive impact we would have?" Ayers asked.

Physicians still stress the importance of getting accurate diagnoses and treatment as early as possible for sexually transmitted infections from qualified medical professionals.

Any unusual discharge, genital irritation or pelvic pain may be cause for concern, Rose said, adding that proper treatment protects against long-term physical consequences like infertility, and helps stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

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Jasper2529
1  Jasper2529    one week ago
More People Turn To Social Media For STD Advice Reddit's STD community has more than 10,000 members, many searching for answers about their health.

This is beyond alarming. If they have access to Reddit, they can do research on legitimate medical sites like Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. Why are they relying on social media advice instead of going to private physicians/PAs, or Planned Parenthood?

 
 
 
katrix
1.1  katrix  replied to  Jasper2529 @1    one week ago

Because the majority of people on social media are idiots ;)

 
 
 
JaneDoe
1.2  JaneDoe  replied to  Jasper2529 @1    one week ago
Why are they relying on social media advice instead of going to private physicians/PAs, or Planned Parenthood?

I think they are afraid to find out the truth. Living in denial perhaps. The article even mentions some that have been to the Dr. and are looking for second opinions. It is beyond alarming.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
1.3  sandy-2021492  replied to  Jasper2529 @1    one week ago
If they have access to Reddit, they can do research on legitimate medical sites like Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic.

Those sites aren't especially interactive.  If you have a specific question that's not covered by an article concerning your suspected condition, you'll get a much quicker answer from Reddit than you will from the Mayo Clinic.  Of course, you'll likely sacrifice accuracy for speed.

I like the idea of health care providers partnering with social media.  It's not an ideal way for people to get healthcare advice, but it may help counter some misinformation.

 
 
 
Jasper2529
1.3.1  Jasper2529  replied to  sandy-2021492 @1.3    one week ago
Those sites aren't especially interactive. 

Yes, I know. Researching for medical accuracy and facts was the point of my comment. I hope that people wouldn't waste precious time asking untrained social media groups' members to "diagnose" their breast lumps or heart attack/stroke symptoms.

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
2  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh    one week ago

Ask the fish is one of the biggest subs on reddit now. I should probably offer my services here.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1  JohnRussell  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @2    one week ago

Selling sandwiches is not allowed here. 

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
2.1.1  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    one week ago

I figured your question would be about dating. LOL

 
 
 
Kathleen
3  Kathleen    one week ago

Relying on the internet for medical advice is very dangerous.  Go see a doctor if you have concerns.

 
 
 
It Is ME
4  It Is ME    one week ago

"The community encourages its more than 10,000 members to share stories, concerns and questions about   sexually transmitted diseases"

Is there a REAL Doctor on "Staff" ? jrSmiley_97_smiley_image.gif

IDIOTS ! jrSmiley_80_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Sunshine
5  Sunshine    one week ago

Well sometimes it helps to talk to others with similar conditions.  You shouldn't rely on it, but talking helps.  No pictures needed though. jrSmiley_4_smiley_image.png

 
 
 
It Is ME
6  It Is ME    one week ago

The "community" Should be encouraging ………… JUST SAY NO ! jrSmiley_32_smiley_image.gif

Or

Masturbation is your REAL Friend ! jrSmiley_16_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
6.1  igknorantzrulz  replied to  It Is ME @6    one week ago

Masturbation is your REAL Friend !

sounds like you need a hand,

grabbing "friends" ...?

 
 
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