Review of CureTogether, a crowd-sourced health research tool

CureTogether is a free self-tracking online health tool has been around since 2008. The website was originally started for people with chronic pain to post and rate the different treatments they’d tried, but the list of conditions has grown to 500 over the years, including non-chronic ones.

For each condition you can report the symptoms you’ve experienced and the treatments you’ve tried, and rate the treatments’ effectiveness. You can also view all the data collected for each condition in the form of easy-to-understand graphs showing effectiveness, popularity, how many people reported each symptom and tried each treatment, etc.

You enter your data for each condition in the form of surveys, starting with a list of symptoms, to which you can add your own. (Someone added “inability to swim in cold water” for fatigue.) The editor in me wonders who cleans up the entries, as I can see five people with skin conditions entering psoriasis, itchy skin, dry skin, etc.

Next is a survey of treatments, again with the option of adding your own. When you check off or write in a treatment, you then have the option to list any side effects you experienced. Finally, you indicate what you think caused your fatigue or boils or parasitic twin, and you can add a comment about what you’ve learned about your condition that might be of use to others.

I was curious to see how many new treatments I could find for conditions I was familiar with, and to what extent prescription drugs feature in the treatments. In the small selection of conditions I looked at, I found about what I’d expect in terms of prescriptions — a lot — but there were a decent number of non-Rx approaches, too.

Here’s one of the statistics infographics for eye floaters, which tend to be visited upon people with lousy myopia and, oddly enough, patients of lengthy surgeries requiring a face-down position, such as back surgery. I had never heard of omega-3 fatty acids as a treatment so I’m going to add that to my list of things to try.

You can also track certain aspects of your health on a daily and monthly basis, which are displayed in a graph. Weight, calories, and sleep are the default, but you can add your own as long as you specify the units. I added “cannibalistic urges” as a test. Hopefully that will not cause someone in a basement office somewhere in DC to start a file on me.

The site’s blog highlights those conditions that have collected significant input already, and reports on how CureTogether’s results compare with academic or medical studies. CureTogether also shares their results with researchers at places like MIT Media Lab and the Mayo Clinic.

Altogether I found it an interesting tool, so I’ll add it to the Resources and references page.

CureTogether also refers the user to these other health tracking sites, only one of which, the forums on MedHelp, I’d ever seen before.

PatientsLikeMe
MedHelp (which includes a section for pets!)
MediGuard
23andWe
HealthTap
Genomera
Edison
Google Health

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