I was reading the magazine section of my Sunday paper this weekend and ran across a great article on online support groups by Peter Waite, the founder of HealingWell.com, a website devoted to online discussion groups for individuals with chronic illnesses. I have always been a big fan of support groups for those with particular medical conditions, whether they be cancer, diabetes heart disease or some less common but equally disabling conditions. However, I have always been dubious of recommending specific online disease forums due to the proliferation of bad medical information and questionable "lurkers". Up until now, about the only Internet medical site I have recommended is MedlinePlus, sponsored by the National Institute of Health. MedlinePlus is the starting place for my medical research.
Mr. Waite makes an excellent suggestion that anyone considering participation in an online support group first check out who sponsors the site (is it a drug company that wants to sell you its latest multiple sclerosis medication?) and if the site is accredited by the Health on the Net Foundation. He also discussed proper online etiquette and the always sound mantra to check everything with your doctor.
My curiosity piqued, I got out of the recliner, sat down at my computer, and went to the HealingWell.com website. It is well organize and has a user friendly interface. More importantly, it has well attended discussion forums on diseases such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, lupus, depression, arthritis, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis, to name a few. For those of you who are fighting a Social Security Disability claim or ERISA long term disability claim, this helpful site may give you some much needed support in the interim.