Published: 02/09/2004, Volume II4, No. 5921 Page 18

Peter Taberner takes a look at the DIPEx website, aimed at helping patients understand their treatment and share experiences

The charity DIPEx research group's website was set up to help improve communications between patients and health professionals.

The site currently covers 12 diseases and aims to build up to 100, ranging from depression to pregnancy screening.

Each illness will be part of a qualitative research project where between 30 and 50 patients from all age groups will be interviewed to provide a balanced view based on their experiences of their treatments.

The site also looks at living with a disease, provides forums on illness discovery and coping with the condition, and reviews the effectiveness of any medication.

DIPEx was created by Dr Anne Mcpherson and Dr Andrew Harxheimer, after Dr Mcpherson was diagnosed with cancer and felt she didn't receive sufficient support about actually having and coping with a disease.

The site has been developed with funding from various sources including the Department of Health, Macmillan Cancer Relief, and the British Heart Foundation.

Director of DIPEx Jane Williams says: 'We are looking to expand the adult condition section in the next five years and by March 2005 to have developed a teenage health section to include illnesses like obesity.'

The charity is also applying for accreditation to the NHS partnership programme to boost the profile and accessibility of the website.

www. dipex. org