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Health & Families

Virtual communities keep patients up and connected

Many patients and their loved ones have found blogging a healthful way to handle diagnosis and treatment and a simple way to connect with others coping with similar health challenges.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project's Susannah Fox "eight in ten internet users have looked online for health information. Many e-patients say the internet has had a significant impact on the way they care for themselves or for others."

Here are some popular community sites that may be useful if you are dealing with a serious illness, in need of special care or are helping care for a relative or friend who is:

PatientsLikeMe is a community of members with a "life-challenging condition" offering tools to help patients learn more about symptoms, research, treatments as well as a search for "patients like you" and the ability to share health data. http://www.patientslikeme.com

CaringBridge helps the "seriously ill" set-up an easy free website/blog to share their experiences, sort of like having a health-focused Wordpress account that guarantees the site is "personal, private and available 24/7" to friends and family. http://www.caringbridge.org

Lotsa Helping Hands helps bring together individuals and groups to support patients with their daily needs, various activities and includes a group calendar with tools to manage volunteers. http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com

Upopolis caters to young patients especially those stuck in a hospital to stay wired with school friends and family in a format similar to Facebook except it is packed with "kid-friendly" tools to cope with "stress, isolation and loneliness while in medical care." https://www.upopolis.com/webconcepteur/web/upopolis

In addition to supportive online communities to help those battling serious health concerns, on September 10, Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) brings together actors, musicians, athletes and journalists for their tenth annual one-hour fundraising event to support the acceleration of "innovative cancer research bringing new therapies to patients quickly that will saves lives now." The television broadcast will air at 8pm EDT on 17 networks and highlights will be posted on YouTube.For more information on how you can support cancer research and patients, go to:  http://www.standup2cancer.org

For more results on Pew's health survey, go to: http://www.pewinternet.org/Commentary/2010/July/Crowdsourcing-a-Survey-Health-Topics.aspx