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Beware Of Internet Health Hype
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Beware Of Internet Health Hype

Gail Ingram takes a moment to vent.
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Nurse Gail Ingram cautions readers to beware of internet health hype.


 

The marketing behind health and wellness is a sore subject for me because I’m pained to see good people being duped.  Journalists with no medical credentials would like the public to believe that they are health experts.  Their editors write splashy headlines that lure people to read articles.  The more hits a post receives, the more advertising dollars the publication can earn.  It’s all about the money;  not about providing unbiased and accurate information.

Even some medical professionals fall into traps.  Our beloved Dr. Oz was recently busted for promoting products on his show that don’t work.  He went in front of the U.S. Senate Committee for Consumer Protection and admitted that he got carried away with the hype.  He stated that diet and exercise are the best ways to live a healthy life.  However, there are only so many ways to relay that to the public before they get bored.  Sensational content is used in order to maintain ratings.  High ratings lead to increased advertising dollars.  Again, it’s all about the Benjamins.

I’m all for preventative health and wellness strategies.  Don’t get me wrong.  My problem lies with manufacturers of products, advertisers, and unqualified journalists who tout health benefits that just aren’t real.  They are trying to get well-intentioned people to buy their products, click on their links to boost analytics, and create hype that will go viral.

For the record, none of the authors at NurseGail.com accept compensation for articles.  I was disappointed when a reader commented on my Vitamin B-17 article and told me that I should be ashamed of taking money from Big Pharma to write it.  Believe me, if I was in cahoots with Big Pharma I wouldn’t be living in a 600 square foot pre-war walk-up in Midtown.  Another reader asked why Keilynn Hopkins didn’t provide specific brands in her running shoe post.  This reader didn’t understand that writers who include brands are often getting paid or receive free samples of products.

I write from the heart and give it to you straight.  When people post, share, and “like” articles on Facebook that are misleading, I wonder why.  Then I remember even my smartest friends are duped by emotion-evoking headlines.  Unfortunately, the sensational posts get the most attention on social media and this prompts credible sites to hype up their content in an effort to remain relevant and competitive.  So who can you believe?

I can tell you this.  Licensed registered nurses and nurse practitioners wouldn’t write for NurseGail.com if it published misleading or inaccurate information.  We are a community of experts who scrutinize and fact check each other’s work.  We aren’t selling products and we don’t get incentives (financial or otherwise) to write.  I can sleep at night knowing that I’ve done my best to make the world a better place.  Now if only the world would listen.

 

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11 Comments

  • Thank you for approaching this “hot topic” subject. I believe you are “spot on” in your thoughts. There is entirely too much hype related to many products on the market today. There is NO magic pill or program that will bring a quick fix to health solutions. People need to look at the basics of a healthy lifestyle, and that starts with things most every basic health organization agrees with, and that is to look at the basics of our food intake.

    We need to look at things like our rest patterns, and stress load. I certainly lean more toward natural health solutions as I am an aromatherapist and and herbalist. I can see benefits of an integrative approach. However, even that approach needs to be balanced with truth and documentation of evidence. Unfortunately, since the dollars for research from from pharma, and they are unlikely to fund a natural solutions study, it takes deeper study to evaluate if trends are hype, or if there is historical data to support information shared.

    If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In America, we want a quick fix to anything, whether that is a pill, and herb, or a vitamin. Media, fortune seekers and even big pharma plays up to that “quick fix” need of people. Unfortunately, those solutions are still not getting to most root issues. Wellness and health aren’t earned by the easy quick fix.

    • Gail Ingram BSN RN Gail Ingram BSN RN says:

      Thanks for commenting, Joyce. In all of my writing, I include the research, no matter whether it is persuasive or not. I might say that the research is weak but I’ve seen something work in my practice or the other way around. That is the beauty of a PROFESSIONAL EXPERT NURSING opinion. The opinion is based on years of experience (in my case over 10), along with many years of education (8 university-level years), and a license (that can be taken away if abused). If I don’t see something work, and the data is weak, I’m certainly going to call it out as bogus.

      Some people confuse journalists with “expert” opinion. Journalists are experts in writing–they are not health experts.

      Some people think that on-line magazines are credible sources for health information. Sometimes this is true but usually only if a doctor is quoted and not trying to sell their own theories or products. Yes, theories are marketable and make money!

      Some people think that smaller websites are more credible since they are grassroots in nature. This is absolutely not true. A smaller website is hungry for hype so that it can become a big website!

      We all need to be more critical and less gullible. Lucky for me, I delight in digging deeper. Thanks for reading, Joyce!

  • One thing I love about the programs I’m currently in, is they are very heavy into sharing the clinical research. I’m grateful for my experience as a nurse to be able to look past the hype even in the natural health industry. Wrong information is abundant, and due to the nature of so many looking for that “magic bullet”, it’s easy to take advantage of people which is morally wrong.

    I love your style and honest writing. It’s pertinent that readers and seekers learn to understand what is marketing ploy, SEO keywords just for ranking, and desperate sale’s ploy’s. Thank you for your diligence.

  • Gail,
    You made an interesting point. Thanks for clarifying the different between an expert in writing (journalist) and a health expert. A journalist is not necessarily a health expert, just as a health expert isn’t necessarily a journalist. Unfortunately, many times the public aligns the two roles as one and misinterprets opinions for medial facts. Thanks for reminding us all of this distinction to keep in mind when reading health content.

    • NurseGail.com NurseGail.com says:

      Thanks Dr. Silva NP for reading. Your comment further clarifies the topic. Much appreciated.

  • So glad for sites like this that share information that is accurate, relevant and useful. You and your writers are doing a great job, Gail. Keep it up! And thanks for this informative post to make us all think. Enjoy the day, Elizabeth

    • NurseGail.com NurseGail.com says:

      We appreciate your comment, Elizabeth. A great compliment for a nurse to refer to our content as “accurate, relevant and useful.” Thank you.

  • Excellent points – especially as many seem to be seeking more holistic options for their health. Anytime something is “popular”, you almost need to be more leery as the predators start circling – including the media. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspective, as usual!!

  • Thanks for addressing this topic Gail! I am thankful for the honesty and integrity in your work.
    Sleep well:)

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