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Ohio State health blog talks sex, farting online

Courtesy of Student Health Services

Many diseases, injuries and medical conditions common today are nothing new to the medical field, but technology is.

Dr. John Vaughn, a physician at the Wilce Student Health Center and senior manager of academic engagement for OSU Student Health Services, said many topical health issues being discussed were also relevant in the past at Ohio State.

Vaughn administers a health blog through the Student Health Center called BuckMD that answers student-submitted mental, sexual and physical health questions. He said while the blog is in a relatively new online format as it moves into its fourth year this March, many health concerns he addresses have direct links to the past.

Dr. H. Spencer Turner, director of the Student Health Center for more than 10 years in the 1970s, wrote a similar weekly column for The Lantern about health concerns during his time.

“Some of those old articles are the same things. Even H1N1 happened back in the ‘70s and he talked about that or birth control or (sexually transmitted infections). They’re very similar,” Vaughn said.

In a testament to repeating health concerns, an article from Feb. 26, 1971, describes flu symptoms and the flu vaccine, and a blog post more than 40 years later published on Nov. 16 focused on the benefits of receiving the flu vaccine.

While the health topics are often similar, many things have changed in the medical field since the 1970s. Some have said the most important change for patient care was the Internet.

“(Students) are in their technology all the time. We’ve got to be where they are,” said John Ford, associate director of OSU Student Health Services. “It’s been a goal of ours to move toward expanding electronic communication.”

Vaughn’s BuckMD blog aims to aid the move to electronic communication.

“The goal was to get out there and engage students a little bit better and we figured that college students and grad students and professional students live online with social media,” Vaughn said. “The blog as a format is really good at delivering information that sometimes is hard to do in person.”

The topics that might be more difficult to discuss in person for some, such as sexual health issues, tend to have higher hits on the blog, he said. The most popular blog posts discuss 5-hour ENERGY, sexual intercourse when a partner has mononucleosis and farting.

“The beauty of a blog is that you can talk about things that might be embarrassing to talk about and people can access it any time they want. As busy as we are here at the Student Health Center, the fact is that the majority of OSU students never walk into our buildings. So we’re trying to reach everybody,” Vaughn said.

However, Vaughn also said the Internet can have negative effects in the medical field.

“People come in pronounced from the web and (say) ‘I have a headache, I think I have brain cancer, I need an MRI’ and you’re trying to talk people out of things. But I think it’s good and bad. There’s a lot of good information out there and I think students will often come in and have a pretty good idea of what’s going on,” Vaughn said.

The blog topics fit with what some students said they are interested in learning about.

“I’d like to know about what sickness(es) are spreading around and tips to stay healthy,” said Alex Kendrick, a first-year in political science and economics.

Kendrick said he wanted the university to make knowledge more accessible about illnesses but had never heard of the blog.

“We base (blog topics) on things I see in the office all the time. There’s certain things that as a doctor here, I do over and over and over,” Vaughn said. 

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