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To determine the impact of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (RCDI) on patient behaviors following illness.
Using a computer algorithm, we searched the electronic medical records of 7 Chicago-area hospitals to identify patients with RCDI (2 episodes of CDI within 15 to 56 days of each other). RCDI was validated by medical record review. Patients were asked to complete a telephone survey. The survey included questions regarding general health, social isolation, symptom severity, emotional distress, and prevention behaviors.
In total, 119 patients completed the survey (32%). On average, respondents were 57.4 years old (standard deviation, 16.8); 57% were white, and ~50% reported hospitalization for CDI. At the time of their most recent illness, patients rated their diarrhea as high severity (58.5%) and their exhaustion as extreme (30.7%). Respondents indicated that they were very worried about getting sick again (41.5%) and about infecting others (31%). Almost 50% said that they have washed their hands more frequently (47%) and have increased their use of soap and water (45%) since their illness. Some of these patients (22%–32%) reported eating out less, avoiding certain medications and public areas, and increasing probiotic use. Most behavioral changes were unrelated to disease severity.
Having had RCDI appears to increase prevention-related behaviors in some patients. While some behaviors are appropriate (eg, handwashing), others are not supported by evidence of decreased risk and may negatively impact patient quality of life. Providers should discuss appropriate prevention behaviors with their patients and should clarify that other behaviors (eg, eating out less) will not affect their risk of future illness.
The problems of poor or biased information and of misleading health and well-being advice on the Internet have been extensively documented. The recent decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to authorize a large number of new generic, top-level domains, including some with a clear connection to health or healthcare, presents an opportunity to bring some order to this chaotic situation. In the case of the most general of these domains, “.health,” experts advance a compelling argument in favor of some degree of content oversight and control. On the opposing side, advocates for an unrestricted and open Internet counter that this taken-for-granted principle is too valuable to be compromised, and that, once lost, it may never be recovered. We advance and provide evidence for a proposal to bridge the credibility gap in online health information by providing provenance information for websites in the .health domain.
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