Prosthetic Surveillance – New publication

March 19, 2009

Building on work from the book, The Medicalization of Cyberspace, we’ve just had a new article published in the journal ‘Surveillance and Society’. The tile of the paper is ‘prosthetic surveillance: The medical governance of healthy bodies in cyberpace’

The article can be found at this link (its an open access journal)



Surveillance and Society Reviews The Medicalization of Cyberspace

March 19, 2009

The review can be accessed here:


Andy Miah and Emma Rich have written an insightful and provocative book about cybermedicine, the varieties of knowledge, experience and practice emerging at the intersection of health information and the Web.



The Journal ‘Body and Society’ reviews The Medicalization of Cyberspace

March 19, 2009

Review of the book has just been published in the Journal Body and Society – Body and Society, 2009, 15; 109, by Sarah Rubenelli.

“The book by Miah and Rich is a valuable and entertaining work. Its title underlines an interest in the way cyberspace nowadays provides critical components in shaping cultural products linked to health and medicine. Indeed, this is a central topic of the book: the role of the internet in redefining people’ expectations of and relationships with medical culture. Overall, the richness of the topics treated by Miah and Rich is a reflection of the sheer range they cover, and the variety of the conceptual approaches they discuss. While they do not make one ‘big claim’ into which all of the contexts of the book is contextualized, they emphasize different themes and apsects with multi-faceted nuances.’  


New England Journal of Medicine Reviews Medicalization of Cyberspace

November 17, 2008

and it’s pretty good too….

“Andy Miah and Emma Rich have extracted from cyberspace fascinating narratives about topics such as the persistent sexual arousal syndrome, the Visible Human Project, the controversy about an online auction for a human kidney (which never actually happened), suicide anorexia nervosa (Pro-Ana) movement….[The authors] seek to listen to what is going on in cyberspace and to understand how it affects the way that people see health and disease.”


The Health Blogosphere: What It Means for Policy Debates and Journalism (16 July, 2008)

July 16, 2008

Kaiser Alert
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The Health Blogosphere: What It Means for Policy Debates and Journalism

rsvp [AT] kff.org
Rakesh Singh
(202) 654-1313

Tiffany Ford
(202) 347-5270

On Tuesday, July 29, the Kaiser Family Foundation is sponsoring a discussion about the growing influence of blogs on health news and policy debates. Only in the past few years has the blogosphere become mainstream. In the health policy arena, we now see policymakers, journalists, researchers and interest groups utilizing this new media tool to deliver information to their audiences.

The briefing will highlight how the traditional health policy world has embraced blogging and will feature a keynote address by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, the first cabinet officer to author an official blog, followed by a moderated discussion with a variety of health policy bloggers and a media analyst. Questions to be explored with the panelists include: Why do individuals and organizations blog? How does blogging impact the broader work of an organization? Are there different standards used when blogging versus other writing? Have blogs impacted the news business significantly? What kind of influence are blogs having on political and policy debates?

Welcome and Introduction

Drew Altman, President and Chief Executive Officer,
Kaiser Family Foundation

Keynote Address

The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Panel Discussion

Vicky Rideout (moderator)
Vice President, Kaiser Family Foundation and
Director, Kaiser Forum on Health Journalism and the News Business

Jacob Goldstein, Wall Street Journal

Michael Cannon, Cato Institute

Ezra Klein, American Prospect Magazine

John McDonough, Office of Senator Edward Kennedy and formerly of Health Care for All in Massachusetts

Tom Rosenstiel, Center for Excellence in Journalism

WHEN: Tuesday, July 29, lunch served at 12:30 p.m. and program begins at 1:00 p.m.
Add this event to your Outlook Calendar (Please note that all times are ET).

WHERE: Barabara Jordan Conference Center, 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC. For those who cannot attend, the event will be webcast live.

RSVP: If you plan to attend the event, please send your name and affiliation to rsvp@kff.org.

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Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025 (650) 854-9400
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Women ‘using web for abortions’ (BBC, 2008)

July 11, 2008

Women ‘using web for abortions’
By Jane Dreaper
Health correspondent, BBC News

Some women in countries where abortion is restricted are using the internet to buy medication enabling them to abort a pregnancy at home, the BBC has learned.

Women in Northern Ireland and over 70 countries with restrictions have used one of the main websites, Women on Web.

A British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology review of 400 customers found nearly 11% had needed a surgical procedure after taking the medication.

The website says it can help reduce the problems linked with unsafe abortions.

‘Stressful experience’

But anti-abortion campaigners called the development of such sites “very worrying indeed”.

The research into those who had used Women on Web found that about 8% did not end up using the medication they had ordered.

Almost 11% went on to need a surgical procedure – either because the drugs had not completed the abortion or because of excessive bleeding.
I think it’s very important women have this resource to turn to in that situation
Women on Web customer

Almost 200 women answered questions about their experiences – 58% said they were just grateful to have been able to have had an abortion in this way, while 31% had felt stressed but found the experience acceptable.

Women on Web posts the drugs only to countries where abortion is heavily restricted, and to women who declare they are less than nine weeks’ pregnant.

A US woman, who has a rare medical complication meaning pregnancy is life-threatening to her, described her experience when she used the website while in Thailand.


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“Women on Web kept in contact with me via e-mail. The medication arrived through Customs, properly blister-packed, with complete paperwork and a doctor’s signature.

“Medication from other websites came in unmarked bottles with no instructions or paperwork – it was quite frightening.

“I was not very far along – only three or four weeks. It went smoothly for me.

“I think it’s very important women have this resource to turn to in that situation – and they can need it for a number of reasons.”

‘Reputable site’

The Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland has had several calls from women considering buying abortion pills online.

Northern Ireland was not included in the 1967 Abortion Act, which liberalised access to termination on the mainland.
At present a woman is generally given an abortion if she has a serious medical or psychological problem that endangers her life if she continues with her pregnancy, has severe learning difficulties, or if doctors detect foetal abnormalities.
Social abortions are less easily accessible, although critics say the law lacks clarity.

The FPA said that on two occasions, women bought drugs without appropriate medical information. They experienced complications and needed aftercare.

Northern Ireland FPA director Audrey Simpson said: “The Women On Web site is very helpful and reputable.

“But for Northern Ireland women, it is encouraging them to break the law – and as an organisation, we have to work within the law.

“We’re really concerned about women accessing the rogue sites – we’re hearing about it and we know it’s happening.

“There are potentially serious medical complications for women from sites which aren’t well managed and this could be the new era of backstreet abortions.”

Anti-abortion campaigners said they were appalled by such websites.

Josephine Quintavalle, from the group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “This is very worrying indeed. It represents further trivialisation of the value of the unborn child.

“It’s like taking abortion into the shadows. These drugs have side-effects and tragedies will increase.”

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Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/07/11 04:28:40 GMT



MBA: Is cyber medicine turning us into a nation of expert patients?

July 10, 2008

MBA: Is cyber medicine turning us into a nation of expert patients?

Researchers from Manchester Business School and The University of Glasgow are undertaking an in-depth study into the impact of cybermedicine, such as virtual health communities and self-help sites, on face-to-face healthcare. They are looking for volunteers to share their experiences and take part in an online survey.

Funded by the NHS National Institute of Health Research Service Delivery and Organisation Programme, the research responds to the rise of the ‘expert patient’ who uses cybermedicine to self-diagnose, and the decline in the deference traditionally linked to professional judgement.

Dr Debbie Keeling, research associate at Manchester Business School explains:

“The project examines how a patient’s use of the internet affects their interaction with healthcare professionals, how they select the most appropriate treatment and most importantly, how it impacts upon their health. The study aims to provide a detailed analysis of cybermedicine, which will be used to help ensure patients receive the best possible choice of treatments and services from health professionals in the future.”

The key aims of the project are:

to quantify the extent and patterns of patients’ use of the internet as a health information resource and identify the factors that lead to variations in behaviour arising from accessing information
to identify the search strategies employed by patients in accessing health information on the internet and the evaluative approaches used in assessing the quality of available information
to analyse the membership, content and dynamics of virtual health communities and identify how participation in such communities is integrated into patients’ engagement with healthcare services
to document and conceptualise the evolving nature of patient-professional interaction arising from patient access to healthcare information and the subsequent format of the healthcare encounter
to assess the effect of changing patient access to information and the renegotiation of the healthcare encounter on patterns of patient decision making, health behaviour and, where feasible, measurable health outcomes
The research will focus on patients affected by cancer (breast and prostate), diabetes and depression. It aims to help determine future NHS policy and strategic planning, and improve organisation and service delivery, training and development.

Professor Angus Laing, The University of Glasgow, said:

“The internet is changing the way we live our lives and the consequences for healthcare is profound  – changing the expectations of patients and confronting professionals with new challenges. The image in the popular media is of hard-pressed doctors besieged by patients waving internet-printout. Yet such simplification disguises a much more complex pattern of change, where increasing diversity of behaviour is the key change.”