We’ve all done it before. You’ve been feeling tired all week so you type your symptoms in the search bar and hit enter. Enter scary diagnoses left, conflicting information right, and panicked message forums centre. When we’re worried about our health, our anxiety levels are sky high and being bombarded with information from everywhere can be really unsettling. With more and more health guidance published online every day, it can be difficult to take it all in and make a judgement on what is right for you. This is known as information overload: it happens when we’re given more relevant information than we can process and it can result in feelings of anxiety and even complete disengagement, which, when it comes to our health, is unhelpful.
The internet can still be a really important source of health information. In fact, one study found that 77% of us use the internet for health purposes, and health and disease information obtained from the internet can hold a big influence over our behaviour relating to our health. However, it is so important that the information available is consistent and accurate; the wrong advice can lead not to only confusion but even to negative beliefs about recommendations.
Finally, autonomy, or a person’s ability to act on their own volition, is an important aspect of behaviour change. Giving people the choice to access information where they want to access it increases that level of autonomy, so it makes sense for the right guidance to be where we want it.
It’s clear that having the right information consistently is key. So what if when we accessed our GP’s website, or a council website, or even a school website, the information remained the same? We wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed because the right information would be displayed, in the same wording, in a way that is accessible to everyone. And that’s our vision.
Damibu Feeds was borne out of the need to improve quality of information available on GP websites, without creating lots of extra work for busy practice staff. It allows one piece of content to be shared across multiple websites, with the owner of that content keeping control – if they spot a typo, or if advice changes, they make a change centrally and it updates everywhere. Equally, it means that organisations wanting to share information on a topic where they don’t have the time or expertise can draw down from trusted sources.
This hasn’t been done before, and we’re really excited to see where it goes.
-  Bujnowska-Fedak, Maria Magdalena, and Paulina Węgierek. “The impact of online health information on patient health behaviours and making decisions concerning health.” International journal of environmental research and public health 17.3 (2020): 880