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Medical science site

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With Coronavirus and Covid-19 being present for a longer time than most people anticipated in the beginning, I noticed that a lot of people suddenly are more concerned with their general health and well-being.

Scope could be (theoretically) quite big: human anatomy (What tendons are affected when you have a tennis elbow?), common diseases and their transmission (How is HIV transmitted?), basic epidemiological concepts (What is the term prevalence used for when talking about diseases?) or risk factors (Why is it bad to drink alcohol while being pregnant? How does obesity affect my heart?).

Questions should be purely educational while answers are scientifically backed (no pseudoscience, no alternative medicine). It should be no site where diagnoses or professional advice are offered. The target audience could be anyone (board certified physicians, laypersons, students of medical and other health sciences, medical researchers) with an emphasis to back up answers with real evidence.

Are there other users interested in such a medical sciences Codidact site? Or maybe with a different scope or target audience?

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6 comments

I don't think this is a good idea. Even medical science becomes up for debate or politicized in this day when people don't agree with the results. Think of science related to pre-born babies, gender issues, or even just COVID-19 itself. mbomb007‭ 5 months ago

@mbomb007 I don't see the point, the site would be about scientific findings. Can you please provide some example questions cornering the topics you brought up? For example, there might be clear medical conditions when an abortion should be done in order to save the mother's life, regardless of ethical and social issues. If there are no or only few findings for a given question, then so be it: report the findings at hand, summarise them and inform about the lackluster data. Zerotime‭ 5 months ago

@Monica When does it go from [status-definition] to [status-launched]? DonielF‭ 3 months ago

@DonielF I'm not sure if Monica is notified if you're not writing down the full name? @MonicaCellio I have the same question :-) Zerotime‭ 3 months ago

This is a good idea and I hope we will be able to get enough attention from medical professionals to receive answers with more insight. Alexei‭ 3 months ago

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10 answers

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Is sports science included into the scope? I imagine questions of the sort, "How to detect if you're overpronating/oversupinating while running?", "Proper posture for X without hurting Y", "What food should I bring on an marathon?"

My opinion is the affirmative.

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1 comment

I think that the questions should be focused on medical aspects on sport, then they are on-topic. For example: "Does exercise A promote wear of my joints?" However, questions about dieting or workout plans are no good fit in my opinion. Zerotime‭ 5 months ago

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Sort of a niche interest: Would subjects like biochemistry be considered on-topic on such a site? Perhaps orgo in general?

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2 comments

My opinion would be that these subjects are on-topic as long as they are relevant to human biology/health. So questions on reactions/enzymes would be on-topic if they take place in humans user53100‭ 5 months ago

I partly agree with the previous comment of @user53100. I think that basic questions related to human biology / biochemistry and pharmacology should be on-topic to a certain degree. As soon as it becomes purely about the chemical formulas and effects behind it, I think that a chemical or pharmacology site would be a better fit. Zerotime‭ 5 months ago

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From comments and discussion on other posts here, I've seen that a disclaimer should be included. My proposal:

This site does not provide medical advice. Its purpose is to exchange information about medical sciences among interested persons. Information shared here may be incorrect and does not substitute medical advice. Please consult with your doctor for medical advice.
Questions and answers are neither provided nor endorsed by Codidact but rather by individual community members.
Please do not post personal medical information. This applies to information about yourself or others. This site is a public instance and everyone can access it. Personal medical information is deleted without further notice.

Please edit if you have something on your mind or provide a new disclaimer if it's completely different.

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1 comment

The equivalent of Judaism's CYLOR manassehkatz‭ 5 months ago

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Right now we don't have a good way of identifying people who would help build a new community, so let's do this: if you are interested in helping to build this site, please leave a comment describing your level of interest (casual visitor, enthusiast, expert in this topic within the site's scope, something else?). I'll edit them into the post later.

  • I'm rather enthusiastic to participate and have a fair share of knowledge in some sub topics like cardiology, oncology, general risk factors and psychiatry. — Zerotime

  • I would participate casually, asking the occasional question but almost certainly unable to contribute useful answers. — Monica Cellio

  • I would participate casually, asking the occasional question but almost certainly unable to contribute useful answers. — msh210

  • I would participate casually too. — user53100

  • At this stage I would participate casually – I just don't know that much on the topic yet. My ability to write useful answers would increase as I work through college. — DonielF

  • (Update 2020-11-04: interest is waning.) I'm rather enthusiastic to participate and have a fair share of knowledge in some areas. I am the author of some popular Q&A like; How much sea water can I safely drink? and Can dish soap really be used to kill ticks and fleas? - James Jenkins

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14 comments

I would participate casually, asking the occasional question but almost certainly unable to contribute useful answers. Monica Cellio‭ 6 months ago

I'm rather enthusiastic to participate and have a fair share of knowledge in some sub topics like cardiology, oncology, general risk factors and psychiatry. Zerotime‭ 6 months ago

I would participate casually, asking the occasional question but almost certainly unable to contribute useful answers. msh210‭ 6 months ago

I would participate casually too. user53100‭ 6 months ago

At this stage I would participate casually – I just don't know that much on the topic yet. My ability to write useful answers would increase as I work through college. DonielF‭ 6 months ago

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This proposal seems to have a good baseline for moving forward. There are answers about definition, sometimes controversial, but it looks like there's a good foundation to work with -- y'all will have to work out some of the scope boundaries on your meta, but you've got a starting point. You've got some enthusiastic people who want to build this community, and more people who would participate casually -- it feels a little light, but we don't want to stand in the way if the enthusiastic people are prepared to step up.

One concern that's been raised, both here and on our team, is that this community seems likely to require more active moderation than usual. The community will need to be able to enforce its planned rules about (no) personal medical advice and credible sources. If you've got folks who are prepared to do that, we think this proposal can move forward.

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1 comment

Thanks for the update on this proposal. Indeed, more users wouldn't hurt anyone. The last paragraph, do you want some of the interested users here to nominate themselves for a moderator role? If yes, maybe it makes sense to notify them additionally via comments. Zerotime‭ 3 months ago

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Somewhat related to the disclaimer I already proposed, I would also like to propose a informational sign / warning / disclaimer when creating questions and answers, similar to the posting tips on each Codidact site. I can imagine something like the standard one and some extra information:

Questions and answers are better received if they...

  • are specific,
  • are not mostly or entirely based on opinions,
  • are well written.

Aside from that, we ask you to provide credible references (link to help center and / or a resource page) for claims you make that are outside accepted practice (link to help center and / or a resource page). We don't expect you to do a thorough literature review but we do expect a reference as a starting point. Very general questions about health-related matters (link to help center and / or a resource page) don't need references.

With very general questions, I mean questions like the following:

  • What should I do to ease the pain from my headache?
  • Why is being obese detrimental for your heart?
  • What bone is the largest one in the human body?
  • How can I lower my cholesterol levels?
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0 comments

+2
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Resources

This community should consider compiling and jointly curating a "resources" category (or something similar that serves the same purpose). This could include lists of good (= reliable, credible) references, perhaps broken up by medical sub-field. It could also include a list or lists of sources the community considers unreliable and why, and maybe some tips (for the layperson) on how to identify unreliable sources. (Is it always obvious what's peer-reviewed and what's not, for example?) Another type of useful resource could be a compilation of links to different jurisdictions' applicable regulations. (I'm not a medical person myself so I'm guessing on this one.)

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2 comments

A resource category might also be a good idea for collecting information about specific medical topics, for example basic anatomy, pregnancy or anything else. Zerotime‭ 4 months ago

Good point. There are probably FAQs that medical professionals would prefer to link to rather than answering again, too. Monica Cellio‭ 4 months ago

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I am concerned about the ability of such a site to maintain its quality and accuracy.

This is the Internet. Even if we require sources for all information contained in posts, there are sources for every piece of misinformation out there. It's hard to tell at a glance at times what is a legitimate information source and what is spouting nonsense - which leads to things like anti-vaccine misinformation gaining popularity.

Unless you have somebody with medical training overseeing every post on the site, I don't see how it would be possible for a public medical Q&A site to keep itself free of misinformation.

Aside from misinformation, there will be the endless "What's wrong with me?" questions asking for a diagnosis, as well as being a ripe target for medical and drug spam.

I don't see this being a viable proposal at the moment, especially with such a small, non-medically-trained userbase.

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6 comments

'there will be the endless "What's wrong with me?" questions' → 'It should be no site where diagnoses or professional advice are offered.', thus making such questions off-topic. user53100‭ 5 months ago

@user53100 - something being off-topic doesn't mean people won't ask it. The users of the site would have to constantly be closing such questions again and again. Mithical‭ 5 months ago

I agree that we need some medical professionals. Zerotime's comment suggests expertise, let's see if there are others who join. user53100‭ 5 months ago

I don't think that it's a problem that people will still be asking about diagnoses, yes it may be annoying to close them, but that's all - no harm done. The validity of sources indeed is a problem, strictly speaking one medical professional wouldn't be enough either as this person can also be wrong. Maybe we need a feature with which (broader) sources can be rated as reliable from different users, this increases quality and helps to avoid biases. Zerotime‭ 5 months ago

This is the same problem that SO always had. You have everyone and their mother posting code there, then others integrate it in their commercial products. It's not necessarily more dangerous to have someone posting incorrect medical advise, than someone posting incorrect firmware advise which some quack then picks up and uses in their pacemaker firmware. SO also had cases where criminals used code from the site to commit data security crimes. -> Lundin‭ 4 months ago

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I support a site, that does NOT exclude questions because they might be looking for a 'diagnoses'

I was involved in what is now MedicalSciences.se from its beginning at Area 51

https://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/66048?phase=definition

At the time of launch diagnostic related questions where allowed. Sometime later the scope was changed.

I have also been member of pets.se since it launched. Questions and answers about diagnoses and treatment are allowed.

Yes, some people post really bad answers, and the community deals with them, it has not been a problem.

Yes, caring an knowledgeable people who can answer and assess other answers will become part of the community.

Yes, it is easy to say people should go to a doctor for the answer, but for many people that is not an option.

Half the world lacks access to essential health services source

Related Meta post on pets.se

Examples (By Request)

There is no need to exclude any kind of what is wrong with me questions. When you have a quality site and you choose not to answer a category of question, the person searching the internet for an answer is still going to find one, they just are not going to find a good answer that has been reviewed. The person has all ready made the decision to look for the answer on the internet, lets try to give them the best possible answer.

  • Doctors are not always correct, some times the answer is go get a second opinion. My dog's right eye is dislodged from the socket, do I need a second opinion?

  • Sometimes the internet can not diagnosis the problem, and the best answer is go see a doctor and this why, while bad answers get downvotes and/or closed Betta fish fin tear or rot?

  • Sometimes the treatment is basic first aid Does this koi carp injury need attention, and how would I treat it? having an answer with reviews is a much better option for the person (who is already searching on line for a solution) then some random blog.

  • Sometimes they just don't get answered (no example provided)

  • Lastly, yes you can diagnosis a broken leg without an Xray machine. People have been doing it and treating them for thousands of years. Maybe you can't diagnosis a fracture, nor can you identify a tumor. But for these types of questions it is opportunity to show why they need to seek a medical professional and the possible issues of not doing so.

Also consider the option of closing as a dupe. The is this leg broken and what do I do about, only needs to be a single question. New posts get closed as a dupe and the OP is pointed to the existing Q&A.

How to know when to down vote or close answers that are not good?

Assuming you and the OP have about the same amount of knowledge on the subject, if an answer does seem right or complete to you and there are no references supporting it then down vote and/or vote to delete the answer. (^Maybe ping the poster and give them the option to improve first*)

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4 comments

I'm very unsure about this... When allowing it, it should be clearly defined what's on-topic and what's off-topic. The problem with making diagnoses via distance is often having not enough information (can't assess a broken leg without a x-ray image) and that you can't verify on this platform if the answering person is actually knowledgable (a high reputation or trust level isn't an indication of being qualified, can also be "only" a researcher who has no idea how to handle a broken leg). Zerotime‭ 5 months ago

Can you propose a possible guideline on what is allowed and what is disallowed and some example questions, please? Maybe this makes it more clear what we're looking at. Zerotime‭ 5 months ago

@Zerotime posted an edit, running out of time, have not proofread yet. I will try to get back later today or tomorrow. James Jenkins‭ 5 months ago

Medical professionals will generally not diagnose without seeing the patient anyway, for reasons of both liability and professional ethics. But they (and others) could still provide useful information. How much to do so is entirely up to the answerer. (By the way, we can give the site a "professional services" disclaimer like some sites have on SE. See the Codidact Judaism site for an example.) Monica Cellio‭ 5 months ago

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Related to the proposal to introduce reactions for answers, I propose that there should be some way to rate sources of questions and answers in order to maintain quality.

This could be done as proposed in the corresponding meta post with reactions that are written along the lines "Good references" and "Bad references". However, it might be also useful to implement a per-reference way to vote so that references can be voted individually.

Oftentimes, interesting findings are scattered among several different publications in different journals so that "foul" or questionable references can find their way into a question and / or answer. Voting on the question / answer as a whole then possibly conveys the wrong meaning as it can happen that only one reference is questionable but the rest is fine.

What do you think of that?

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3 comments

My upvote is for the "good references"/"bad references" suggestion (however worded). I'd suggest that the community curate lists of known-credible and known-problematic references and that these reactions could be links to those lists. I'm concerned that one reaction per reference, or using answers as places to vote on the validity of references cited therein, could be unmanagable. Monica Cellio‭ 4 months ago

@MonicaCellio Yes, per-reference voting could indeed be too much. Maybe voting as a whole, commenting if there are questionable references and link them to curated lists? On a side note: Would you mind posting your idea about curated lists of credible and problematic references as an answer? I think that this is a good idea. Zerotime‭ 4 months ago

@Zerotime done (incorporated into a broader suggestion). Monica Cellio‭ 4 months ago

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