Accuracy of Medical Information on the Internet | Scientific American Blog Network

A good piece highlighting the problems with Internet searches in terms of the accuracy of search and information being up-to-date. I recall when first diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, I was told not to search too much as most of the information is dated and does not cover some of the new treatments. Of course, by that time, I had plunged in too deeply – which we all do. Quote:

This study highlights the opportunities and pitfalls of using the internet to communicate medical information. The internet is providing an opportunity for patients and family members to obtain additional medical information that they did not receive from their physicians, as well as to address questions that may arise and do not warrant a visit to a physician. On the other hand, the study also demonstrates that the quality of medical information on the internet varies widely. Searches for certain key phrases can unwittingly lead a user to websites that promote certain products or treatments without taking the medical evidence and professional guidelines into account.

One key factor to help address this pitfall is for physicians and other healthcare professionals to actively guide patients or family members to website that are likely to have information with high levels of medical accuracy. Instead of placing the burden of discriminating between accurate and inaccurate information on patients, healthcare professionals could advise patients or parents as to what websites should be used to address medical questions that they might have.

Furthermore, government institutions, organizations and educational websites need to realize the importance of maintaining up-to-date and accessible medical information on their websites. Concerted efforts between government or educational institutions, professional organizations and healthcare professionals are necessary so that patients can maximally benefit from the information opportunities afforded by the internet.

I also did some tips on Finding good information (here), reflecting on what I found helpful over the past few years.

Accuracy of Medical Information on the Internet | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network.

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