Media releases

July 19, 2001

Evidence-based advice on the common cold

Did you know that the long-term usage of Vitamin C does little to prevent the common cold while megadoses of the vitamin at the onset of the virus may reduce its severity?

People often mistakenly believe they won't catch cold by getting physically cold or chilled. Wrong. Colds are more likely in colder climates.

Also, did you know that the cold virus is spread mostly by your hands coming into contact with germs. Infection occurs when you touch your nose, mouth and eyes?

These are examples of some of the wealth of topical health information you can access by visiting the Medibank Private website where you will be provided with an automatic link to the Cochrane Consumer Network.

A not-for-profit organisation devoted to providing consumers and health practitioners with the latest in medical research, the Cochrane Consumer Network is the consumer arm of the highly regarded international research body, the Cochrane Collaboration.

The Cochrane Consumer Network provides the general public with access to evidence-based information on a wide range of medical conditions as well as the latest on medicines, drugs, surgery, alternate therapies and lifestyle and dietary changes, to mention but a few.

Direct access to the Cochrane Consumer Network via the Medibank Private website has been possible as a result of a business arrangement between the two organisations.

Under to the arrangement, Australia's largest private health fund is sponsoring the "consumerisation" of Cochrane research information into a simpler, easy-to-read format.

Up until recently, this information has only been available to the medical fraternity.

As a further enhancement to the Cochrane Consumer Network, Medibank Private's eBusiness team has also devised a special "Hot Topics" segment which will provide those entering the site with a quick snapshot of specific medical conditions.

For the month of July, colds are under the spotlight and members and the general public will be able to find out how to lessen their chances of picking up and spreading the virus.

These Hot Topics will change monthly.

According to Cochrane Consumer Network international convenor, Hilda Bastian, while there are many websites with an abundance of health and medical information, none can claim to have been as well researched, as rigorously tested and as up to date as Cochrane.

"Similarly few, if any, can claim to have a site whose information is all evidence-based. What this means is that all information has been stringently tested by scientists, doctors and experts in the fields, to separate the wheat from the chaff.

"Ultimately, only the best information has been summarised on the website."

Medibank Private managing director, Mark Burrowes, says being privy to evidence-based health information provides health consumers with useful information to assist in their making more informed decisions about their health.

"Being better informed will assist patients ask the most pertinent questions and discuss the most relevant issues with their doctors," he says.

However, Mr Burrowes cautions that its intention is not to interfere with the role of doctors as health information providers.

"Ultimately, there is no real substitute for your own doctor's medical advice," he says.

* Medibank Private members are now able to conduct a host of activities on-line. They can review their health insurance cover, get a quote for their cover requirements and submit an application on-line.

They can find out more about Medibank Private's GapCover, establish which specialists charge under Medibank Private's GapCover arrangements for in-hospital procedures, read the fund's Feelbetter magazine, and update their personal details on-line via Medibank's Online Member Services section.

Online Member Services include change of address details, adding or deleting the names of dependants from health cover, ordering replacement cards, suspending cover and down-loading claims forms to print.

* Disclaimer. This information is not intended to replace advice from a health professional. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Medibank Private or the Cochrane Consumer Network. No claim is made as to, or responsibility or liability taken for, the suitability, completeness accuracy or authenticity of this information. It is your responsibility to access the accuracy and relevance of the information provided.

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