42.3 Health, risk and internet

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 9:40 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Helena GARBIN , Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública - ENSP/FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cristina GUILAM , Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública - ENSP/FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
André PEREIRA NETO , Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública - ENSP/FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Over the last twenty years, the world has witnessed an intense technological transformation that, among other consequences, has provided enormous growth in access to information. The volume of information available is becoming greater, and access to it is increasingly easy and fast (Giddens, 2002). There is a profound connection between that and the present times, that authors like Giddens and Beck call “late modernity”, a period of uncertainty, instability, unpredictability and general skepticism that has the Internet as an icon, or even epitome. This extraordinary scientific progress, especially the advent of information and communication technologies, particularly the internet, acts as part of the structural dimension of the “risk society” and “late modernity”, at the same time trigger and maintainer. There’s a tendency of questioning traditional institutions and expert systems, including those related to science and health/medicine. Contrary to what was expected, open access to scientific information brought, instead of more confidence, questioning and doubt, a paradox between disillusion and dependence of medicine and health professionals. For these reasons, more and more people are accessing the internet to obtain information regarding their own health conditions or those of a relative. These are individuals who seek information on diagnoses, diseases, symptoms, medications and costs of hospitalization and treatment. All these informations, and much more, can be found on the countless websites covering topics that are connected with healthcare. This prominence can be explained insofar as healthcare has, over recent years, has acquired a paramount value. A qualitative study with semi structured interviews was performed to observe the impact of this phenomenon on the illness experience of chronic patients. Important questions related to physician patient relationship and the medical consultation gained prominence. The Internet may be an excellent tool for health education, but at the same time may deepen the medicalization of society.