I just noticed one of Cochrane Collaboration's Cochrane Review documents entitled Interactive Health Communication Applications for people with chronic disease:
People with chronic disease have multiple needs, including information about their illness and the various treatment options; social support; support with making decisions; and help with achieving behaviour change, for example, changes in diet or exercise. Computer-based programmes which combine health information with online peer support, decision support, or help with behaviour change may be one way of meeting these needs, and of helping people to achieve better health. This review sought to find out how such computer programmes, known as Interactive Health Communication Applications (IHCAs), might affect people with chronic disease. The reviewers found that IHCAs improved users' knowledge, social support, health behaviours and clinical outcomes. It is also more likely than not that IHCAs improve users' self-efficacy (a person's belief in their capacity to carry out a specific action).
The Cochrane Collaboration is a well-regarded UK-based publisher of information on evidence-based healthcare (a superset of evidence-based medicine). This report struck home because at our Centere we are supporting a project called Internet-Enhanced Management of Fibromyalgia, headed by University of Michigan investigators David Williams PhD and Daniel Clauw MD and operated onsite by the Avera Research Institute in Fargo, ND. This project overview reads as follows:
Fibromyalgia (FMS), a condition marked by pain, fatigue, and memory complaints, is considered a chronic condition, and is most commonly treated or managed using symptom-based pharmacological interventions.
Previous studies have found benefit in adding cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a non-pharmacological intervention, to standard pharmacological care in order to obtain better outcomes in terms of improved functional status and symptom reduction. While the addition of CBT to standard care has been shown to be beneficial, it is not a form of therapy that is widely available to patients with FMS. This protocol will examine the relative merits of adding CBT to standard care in an experimental format.
The experimental format uses an informational website. The website will contain the content of CBT, a social support capability, and data transfer capabilities.
The experimental CBT format will be compared to standard care alone. The researchers are interested in assessing improvements in physical functional status, the symptoms of FMS, and the relative costs of the interventions as compared to the savings in healthcare utilization over a 12-month period.
To me this sounds very much like the US equivalent of an IHCA as described in the Cochrane paper. I'm especially eager to see the outcome of this because the Web technology underneath it is pre-Web 2.0, though somewhat prescient for its time in including some social networking capabilities.
If this study proves Web-based CBT is beneficial, I'm hoping the next round will explore in more detail the new communications media invented in the past four years that fall into the admittedly loose category called Web 2.0. I'm writing a series of books on business blogging for professionals, the first one being Business Blogging for Heath Professionals Using TypePad™: A Jump-Start Approach, which has just been released today. A major part of the mission of the book is to explore how healthcare practice can be improved through the use of business blogging. Business blogging is a code word for blogging done deliberately for a serious business or professional purpose, as opposed to the idiosyncratic musings, ramblings, and rants one often finds in personal blogs. The book is a first step in my explorations of how the Web 2.0 paradigm can best be put to use delivering evidenced-based healthcare (including but not limited to medicine).
This all seems to fall under the rubric of health marketing, which is not about marketing particular health products, but rather about selling the general public on the idea of better health and ways to attain it. I think it's a great idea, and I want to help in any way I can.
Shameless Commerce: You can see the Website for the book at https://hunscher.typepad.com/bizblogging4professionals. In fact, you can even buy a copy while you're there. ;-)