A new website aims to become the friends reunited of online health information services by linking together people who are coping with the similar diseases or injuries.
The site, www.thirdaid.com, is designed to enable people to seek out others who have the same problem so that they can help each other by sharing information and personal experiences.
The website covers over 400 diseases and conditions, but does not provide medical advice.
ThirdAid.com is designed as a meeting ground for all those who want to anonymously talk about their ailments, to learn from and share with others sensitive information on their condition and how they are coping with it.
Set up by Sarah Frost, who dreamed up the idea following a serious skiing accident that left her immobile. During her treatment she felt isolated and unable to share her experiences with other people with a similar condition.
"Professional Health carers try to console you by telling you that you do not suffer alone, but it is not quite so convincing if you never meet anyone who has experienced or is experiencing what you are going through," Ms Frost explains on the website.
People wanting to use the site have to register their age, medical condition and other details – although these are kept confidential – and can then contact others with the same condition. Their e-mail addresses are kept private to prevent the system from being abused.
Visitors who register for the ThirdAid.com service automatically become “members”. Two types of membership available — “standard members" who have access to basic services and full members" who pay an annual fee for access to a wider range of services.
Standards members can register their experience and tips within a specific condition or disease group, and receive and reply to email messages sent by full members. Full members, meanwhile, can contact other sufferers or carers by sending email messages to addresses of both full and standard members; use message boards and live chat facilities.