information overload

Information Overload and Medical Decisions

Information overload is a real problem. Before the Internet, if you wanted information after a medical appointment, you had to peruse a book. Some libraries contained medical sections, or you could ask fellow patients, crowdsourcing information in the waiting room. But information came in manageable chunks such as an encyclopedia entry or a magazine article.

The Internet is like trying to drink from a firehose. It’s wonderful because you can always find out more information on any subject, including aphasia. But it’s also too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of facts and firsthand accounts. Where is the line where health information crosses from just enough to too much?

Can You Ever Have Too Much Information

Information is a good thing, right? We want to be informed, especially when it comes to personal health. But it’s possible to experience information overload. Too much information, especially too much conflicting information, can cause anxiety and confusion.

Dubbed “researchitis” by this HuffingtonPost author, she points out the problem that comes from knowing too much:

Yet information overload paralyzes us into a state of inaction, and if we don’t use the information that we’re learning immediately, we lose up to 75% of that information from our memories and brains, making all of the information we’re taking in nearly useless.

In other words, you keep the anxiety and confusion, but you lose the helpfulness that comes from having information to use for decision-making.

How Can You Manage Information Fatigue?

How do you collect information on strokes, brain injury, or primary progressive aphasia without drowning in it?

One Recommendation Approach

Ask your doctor or speech-language therapist for one recommended book or website, and then stick to that single, best source. Hyperlinks make it tempting to jump from site to site, but use them to expand and better understand the information in your primary source rather than become more points on your information path.

Research Limit Approach

If you need to make a decision and are gathering facts, judge ahead of time how long you will need to find the necessary information. Add a few minutes as buffer and set an egg timer. When the timer goes off, stop researching, even if you don’t have an answer.

Not having an answer in the alloted amount of time is a clue that the decision may be more complicated than you thought. In that case, you may want to return to a professional and have them help you narrow the scope of the decision.

Hire a Researcher Approach

No, we’re not suggesting that you pay a medical professional’s hourly rate, but there are plenty of people who will do your Googling for you at a low cost. If you go on sites like and put in the term “research,” you will find plenty of people with 5-star reviews from past users who are happy to compile the information for you.

Explain why you are hiring them — that it’s not for a research paper but instead to save yourself from information overload — and they will be happy to do your Googling. It can help helpful to have someone non-emotionally invested in the decision doing the research.

What other suggestions do you have to save yourself from information overload?

Image: Roman Kraft via Unsplash via Creative Commons license



  • Karen
    October 17, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Limit words . Yes & no Questions were good. Doro mobile phone was easy & simple to use. Be patient & give them a chance to get their words out. Make sure you have lots of time to listen without having to rush about.

  • Karen
    October 17, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Use simple mobile phones such as Doro , books with bold titles on each chapter. I used a women’s devotional. There was a different title on each page. Newspapers are too busy and don’t give s true reflection of there ability to read. Sing Hymns, choruses , sing along while playing them on a CD players or MP3 player. Write down friends and family names. When they don’t feel well please don’t assume you where pain or sickness is. Suggest where pain is nose Toe head all over.

  • Megan Sutton
    October 19, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    We wrote a book to help people find the right information without being too overwhelmed. It’s an easy-to-read Q&A format with information from top experts all about stroke recovery. It’s an excellent place to start learning about stroke without overload. Healing the Broken Brain is available on Amazon in print, e-book, and audiobook.

  • Rosalind Hurwitz
    October 23, 2017 at 11:11 am is not so simple! I searched for “research” and was overwhelmed by people offering to do market research. It is very business-oriented. I might recommend getting someone to help you sort out the responses you’re looking for.

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