Navigation Links
The 'Net: A Tangled Web of Health Information

Experts offer advice on how to use the Internet to your advantage

THURSDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- The Internet offers a dizzying amount of health information -- whatever ails you, someone is sure to have posted something about it somewhere on the Web.

But all that information can lead to overload -- or worse. You might end up heeding the wrong voice and getting some fairly bad advice.

"There's a lot of quackery on the Web," said Don Powell, president and CEO of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine. "There's a lot of bias on the Web. The Web is just wrought with misinformation and badly dated information."

One good basic piece of advice is to stick to sites ending in ".edu," ".gov" or ".org," Powell said. That means the site is run by a school, a government agency or a nonprofit organization and is, therefore, less likely to push a biased point of view, unlike some ".com" -- or commercial -- sites.

Another good way to judge a site is to see whether it's been accredited, Powell said. He noted two groups that are active in certifying sites as accurate and up-to-date: URAC and Health on the Net (HON).

"We ask people when they look on the Web that they make sure the site is accredited," he said. "It's a good way to establish trustworthiness."

Web sites published by companies or individuals can contain some good advice, but health consumers need to be more discerning when using those sites, said Dr. Jim King, a family practice doctor in Selmer, Tenn., and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

First, see who is paying for the information you are viewing. The ads supporting a site can be a hint to possible bias, King said. "It may be skewed one way or the other, based on their advertisements," he said.

Who owns the site also can be a clue. For example, is a pharmaceutical company presenting the information? "Clearly, there's a bias there toward using their own medicines," Powell said.

Powell also recommends that you double-check when the information was last updated. "Information is constantly changing in the health industry," he said. "You want to make sure it's accurate and up-to-date."

For example, a Web site recommending the use of ipecac to prompt vomiting after someone has ingested poison is running counter to the latest advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recently advised against it, Powell noted. And the guidelines for judging high blood pressure also were revised recently, and someone relying on outdated information could be in trouble and not know it.

The American Academy of Family Physicians provides a quick checklist that can help determine a site's value:

  • Who wrote the information? Health-related Web sites often post information from other sources, and those original sources should be clearly stated.
  • If a health-care professional didn't write the information, was it reviewed by a doctor or medical expert?
  • If the information contains any statistics, do the numbers come from a reliable source?
  • Does something on the Web site appear to be opinion rather than fact? If so, is the opinion from a qualified person or organization?

As a final test, King recommends taking yourself off-line to discuss what you've learned with your own doctor.

"Before you act on anything, bring it to your physician to look it over," he said. "You can educate your doctor about pages that have good data, and they have a chance to say, 'No, this isn't really accurate.' You can learn from each other."

King has seen the impact of the Internet's health information on his own practice, and it's generally been positive.

"It helps educate my patients and direct their questions," he said. "Under the constraints we have now, we [doctors] can't spend as much time with patients as we used to. This way, they can come in well-educated and ready to discuss their condition. At the end of the visit, I might also refer them to a Web site for more information."

Powell rattled off a list of things that medical Web sites are great for: helping consumers decide when they need to see a doctor; giving them information on selecting the right physician; showing them how to evaluate the treatment they receive; providing questions to ask about an invasive procedure or surgery.

But in the end, King said, your doctor is always going to be able to provide the best assessment of your health.

"I think the computer and the Internet is an excellent tool," he said. "But that's all it is. It doesn't take the place of the relationship between the physician and the patient. Don't think this can become a replacement for your health-care provider."

More information

To learn more about evaluating health information on the Internet, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Don Powell, president and CEO, American Institute for Preventive Medicine, Farmington Hills, Mich.; Jim King, M.D., FAAFP, family practice doctor, Selmer, Tenn., and president, American Academy of Family Physicians

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Wired, Working Americans Let Nighttime Health Routines Slide
2. Phyhealth Signs Agreement with Advantica EyeCare to Provide Vision Services for Pilot HMO
3. Case Dropped Against Healthcare Worker Who Was Arrested While Providing Care to an Elderly, Disabled Man in Los Angeles Home
4. President Recognizes Sharp HealthCare With 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award at White House
5. Video: 18th Annual Retirement Confidence Survey(R): Health Care, Economy Major Concerns in Workers Record Drop in Retirement Confidence
6. Boston Scientific Named Healthcare Supplier of the Year by Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX)
7. Pelosi: By Literally Fixing Broken Hearts, Dr. DeBakey Has Given Hope and Health to Millions
8. U.S. Health Club Members Proclaim - I Lost It at the Club! and Lose 45 Tons of Excess Weight
9. Thousands Sign Petitions Urging Governor Crist and Legislative Leaders to Save Healthcare Coverage for 40,000 Floridians
10. Most Companies Oppose Single-Payer Health Care System, State Coverage Mandates
11. GHXcellence Awards Honor Healthcare Providers and Suppliers for Achievements in Supply Chain Performance
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
The 'Net: A Tangled Web of Health Information
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... "FCPX editors can now reveal their media ... Pro X," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice ... X users can now reveal the media of their split screens with growing ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... A ... revolutionize the emergency ambulance transport experience for the millions of people who require ... has disrupted the taxi industry through the use of technology. Now, SmartEMS has ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, 2016, A ... 2016 Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, where the ... history as home to some of the world’s leading providers of cereal and other ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to develop a weight loss fitness plan ... fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry today:, , ... They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit their exercise program ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now turn to Dr. Jessica ... Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings specialization to include Mohs ... Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the direction of Glenn Goldstein, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... date financial data derived from varied research sources to present ... impact on the market during the next five years, including ... sub markets, regional and country level analysis. The report provides ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... PARK RIDGE, Ill. and INDIANAPOLIS ... caliber of students receiving a Lilly Diabetes Tomorrow,s Leaders ... hands. The 2016 scholarship winners, announced today online at ... refused to let type 1 diabetes stand in the ... Lilly Diabetes has supported the Foundation,s scholarship program since ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... DUBLIN , June 23, 2016 ... the "Surgical Procedure Volumes: Global Analysis (United States, ... Australia, Canada)" report to their offering. ... an essential tool for healthcare business planners, provides surgical ... looks at surgery trends with an in-depth analysis of ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: