“True stories are not the best medicine but they are nutritious and sustaining”. So says Philip Pullman, award winning author, on the front page of Healthtalkonline (previously known as Dipex)—a website that allows anyone to hear other individuals’ experiences of health and illness. This site differs from others where patients share information since it is based on qualitative interviews done by researchers at the University of Oxford. The site covers many conditions from Rheumatoid Arthritis, to parents’ decisions about vaccination. Previous specific initiatives of the site have included a one on young people’s experiences of health, lifestyle and illness, which has its own website – Youthhealthtalk .
The most recent initiative, launched on 26 November, was a new section on something that is perhaps most difficult of all speak about—what it’s like to be left behind after traumatic death. The stories are told in a sober way but nonetheless are almost unbearably moving and one can only hope will help others in similar situations to make sense of what they are going through.