Health information: When it's right, when it's wrong and what it all means

Oct 26, 2018

Where do you get your health and wellness information? If we asked that question a few decades ago, you may have answered with the name of your primary care physician. But things have changed. In the information age, understanding what's best for your health and wellness is not always easy. From the latest fad diet to the most recent study on the effects of drugs, treatment, environmental stressors -- what should you be paying attention to and what should you ignore? We explore these topics on "Take Care," WRVO's health and wellness show.

The internet may be partially to blame for the confusion. There's no shortage of details about procedures, doctor reviews and worst-case scenarios available to you, but the real issue is cutting through the noise. First, we ask where do people get their health information? Joining us to explain how people seek out health information -- and how that's changed -- is Dr. Nilay Kumar, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

According to our next guest, the problem with health and wellness is that it's not all healthy and it won't all make you well. From juice cleanses to toxin-absorbing foot baths, there's a lot out there that will supposedly make you fit, clean, all-natural and healthy. Timothy Caulfield has spent most of his career trying to find out if there's any evidence behind these wellness trends. He joins us to dispel some myths and get to the root of the problem. Caulfield is a researcher, author and professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta. He's host of the show "A User's Guide to Cheating Death," which is available on Netflix.

Part of the issue with finding health information is that it can often seem contradictory. In a perfect world, medicine would progress in an orderly fashion, with good practices replaced by better ones and so on. Our next guest explains why medical reversals are harmful and avoidable. Dr. Vinay Prasad is a hematologist-oncologist and associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. You can find more on the topic in the book he co-wrote, "Ending Medical Reversal."

As far as our own personal health information is concerned, electronic medical records have replaced paper records in most scenarios. But in the huge and varied medical world, there's room for improvements. WRVO's Ellen Abbott brings us a special report this episode on where medical records are a success and where they fall short.

Have you ever heard of a primary source? Many of the articles you read on health and wellness cite health studies and clinical trials. Those studies serve as a primary source -- the exact findings from a trial or research group examining the efficacy of a drug or success of a treatment plan, for example. But do you know how to properly read a medical study? And how can we tell if the study is funded by someone with an agenda? Helping us to answer these questions is Olivia Tsistinas, clinical outreach coordinator at Upstate Medical University's Health Sciences Library (which is open to the public).

The inspiration for our latest in health segment this week came from an article in POLITICO. According to Arthur Allen, connecting your medical data could be the next big payoff. Allen is the E-Health editor for POLITICO Pro.