Diabetes as Presented Online From Two Different Websites
Diabetes is a common condition which is a form of affliction that pervasive in the U.S. Diabetes is a condition where a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal as a result of the fact that the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin or can’t use insulin as well as it should — thus, causing insulin to be built up in one’s blood. Type II diabetes is a condition which is preventable and which adults and children don’t have to suffer from, as long as they engage in the proper lifestyle and dietary precautions. At this time, a plethora of websites do exist which seek to explore and educate the general public about issues which are connected to diabetes and ways that individuals and families can protect themselves from having this happen. This is of particular concern because diabetes can cause truly serious health complications such as kidney failure or blindness.
This memo will examine two major websites which are focused on content regarding diabetes. The first website examined will be medicinenet.com — this is website designed to educate the average person or the general public. The website that this will be compared to is the CDC.gov, which is the official website of the center for disease control, a website which is designed for professional healthcare providers and other leaders within the healthcare community to use to the best of their ability and to help inform their own decision making.
For instance, medicinenet.com is designed for an audience of individuals who have virtually no experience in medicine, health or related matters and who have very little understanding of science and no background knowledge on diabetes. While the CDC does have a section on their website where they cover certain baseline levels of information about diabetes for visitors to the site, the bulk of what they do is tailored to people who need specific information about more nuanced issues in connection to diabetes. For example, the medicinenet.com website is designed for anyone who has a high school reading level and over and who has a western cultural background and who belongs to a middle class income level. The CDC website is designed for college-educated professional, many of whom work in the medical field or who have strong interests in the medical field or who need the most up-to-date information about how certain diseases and conditions impact certain parts of the population. Thus, the CDC is designed more for professionals who need specificity about diabetes to assist them in fulfilling objectives or certain tasks about their jobs.
For the medicinenet.com website, there’s a strong impression that the secondary audience would be students who need to refresh their knowledge on this condition or who need to obtain a basic overview or understanding of the condition. The CDC.gov website’s secondary audience is laypeople, though highly educated lay-people who are able to understand some of the slightly more complicated language that the website uses.
The websites don’t necessarily engage in any overt strategies to appeal to their primary audiences. For instance, the slogan of medicinenet.com is that “we bring doctor’s knowledge to you.” This strategy demonstrates the overall angle of the website which is to have the content written and reviewed by doctors and then given to the general public so that they can read and understand it easily. The strategy is to give the layperson the knowledge that a doctor has but in a way that they are able to absorb it efficiently. It is this angle that makes up the bulk of their effort to connect with their audience. On the other hand, the CDC doesn’t have to take on that effort. They are a famous department of the government which gives them all the clout and authority that a website could possibly need.
Medicinenet.com uses very little jargon. For example, the most technical jargon that they use is as follows: “Acute complications: dangerously elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia), abnormally low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) due to diabetes medications may occur. Chronic complications: disease of the blood vessels (both small and large) which can damage the feet, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart may occur.” On the other hand, the CDC doesn’t rely heavily on technical jargon and tends to introduce carefully any new words or terms that it might use. On medicinenet.com, the average sentence is slightly over twelve words: “The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 and type 2.” On the cdc.gov website, the average sentence is just under 20 words: “The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies.” The average paragraph on the medicinenet.com website is just two or three sentences; on the CDC.gov website the average size of a paragraph is four sentences or more. The style of the website on medicinenet.com is much more informal; on the cdc.gov, the language is more formal.
Neither site has a heavy amount of advertising: the CDC.gov has none and medicinenet.com just has advertising for their sister-website, WebMD. Both websites do employ things like tables, graphs and figures in order to illustrate facts about the condition or realities about the way in which this condition does manifest itself. However, the graphs and other illustrative tools are way more rigorous on the CDC website and focus on much more content and research.
Cdc.gov. (2013). Basics About Diabetes. Retrieved from CDC.gov: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/consumer/learn.htm
Stoppler, M. (2012). Diabetes Mellitus. Retrieved from Medicinenet.com: http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_mellitus/article.htm
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