Wall Street Journal Examines Matching Services for Online Patient Support
The Wall Street Journal today examines online services that connect patients who either currently have or have survived the same illness, the Wall Street Journal reports. The services differ from traditional support groups in that they attempt to match patients of the same age and sex and in the same stage of disease, according to the Journal. Several groups now offer these services for patients looking for support and information on their specific illness and treatment options. The Association of Cancer Online Resources, for example, offers 130 cancer e-mail lists to give patients an opportunity to find another patient with the same condition. "In many instances, if you're not lucky enough to be living in a major urban area with a major cancer center, you're going to be treated by an oncologist who has never seen another case of your type of cancer," ACOR founder Gilles Frydman, said, adding, "The more rare the disease, the more useful the lists are." Other services use databases that match similar patients. The Anderson Network, part of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, maintains a database of 700 cancer survivors and will attempt to match any patient, even if he or she is not a patient at the center, with someone from the network. Many of these online resources, however, are not monitored for quality and accuracy, and patients should discuss any information they receive from them with their physicians, the Journal reports (Parker-Pope, Wall Street Journal, 12/17).
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