Medical misinformation creates an environment of distrust: Chhavi Kohli

Chhavi Kohli is a Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator and a Certified Insulin Pump Trainer. She has a rich experience of over 15 years in the field of Therapeutic Nutrition and Diabetes Management. She currently works as a Chief Diabetes Educator and Nutritionist in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Medanta the Medicity, Gurgaon.

What is the best thing you enjoy about treating patients?

Best thing for me is we get to meet people from different walks of life and also from different parts of the world, and that gives us an opportunity to understand their culture, tradition, different cuisines. We also learn how different circumstances can influence the management of health issues.

When is a patient easy to treat?

It becomes easy to treat when patients trust their medical practitioner or expert. Trust is a fundamental aspect of a patient and their doctor’s relationship. It allows patient to effectively discuss their health issues and to comply with the doctor’s guidance. This kind of behaviour not only enhances their knowledge but also prevents them from falling prey to any misinformation. Another type of patients to whom providing medical care is easy are those with simple and consistent routine. It not only helps in easy identification of the problem but also smoothens out further assessment and treatment. This is very important in diabetes management where consistency and discipline of the routine directly influence the blood glucose levels and the line of treatment.

When is a patient difficult to treat? 

It becomes difficult to treat when they are psychologically distressed or have behavioral issues or eating disorders. This is because a lot of such people end up struggling with following the advices of their doctor. It also becomes difficult when patients have unrealistic expectations, and they want quick results. Being in denial is another problem as it can interfere with the treatment procedure.

How helpful is it to the treatment course, if the patient is knowledgeable about the treatment procedure, benefits, risks etc.?

I think it depends on the type of problem, source of information and patient’s attitude. There are two sides of this. Many times, it is seen that patients gather the knowledge and make relevant changes in their routine before meeting the doctor. This creates more room for further discussion. But sometimes people think that they need not visit the doctor and try to make changes by themselves on the basis of the information they found on the internet or otherwise.

How can a patient improve their knowledge about the treatment procedure

Apart from consulting the doctor, patients can improve their knowledge by reading books or information available on authentic sites, eBooks. They can also gather information about authentic books or sites from their doctor. There is a lot of good content available on various Youtube as well as other social media. However, before following anything that has been said there, they should get the information about the qualification of the person delivering the content rather than blindly follow it.

How does medical misinformation act as a problem in the overall treatment procedure?

It is very dangerous because it is creating an environment of distrust, confusion and also increasing anxiety. People tend to get anxious by seeing stories of other people on social media and lose trust on their own journey just because it is slow or different from the others. This not only creates confusion but also disrupts the mode of physical and mental well-being.

A few advice that you always give to your patients…

Focus on physical and emotional well-being. You should nurture yourself and indulge in healthy sustainable habits. To remain healthy, you don’t have to stop eating what you like. Rather, you should try to strike a right balance of nutrients. Eat minimally processed food, add colours to your plate, focus on seasonal, traditional and local foods. Exercise and sleep well. Do not forget to hydrate yourself. And most importantly, before following any content on social media, ensure if it is reliable and authentic. Always go back to your healthcare expert and discuss about your concerns.

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