The ups and downs of internet health sites. “. . . doctors need to realize that not all patients are educated enough to be able to discern which sites are meant to help people and which are meant to sell something. That puts those patients at higher risk of getting wrong, misleading or dangerous health information.

Despite the risks, the Internet offers a great opportunity to bridge the communication gap between patient and doctor . . . it’s great to see patients come in with more information than they used to and ask their doctors informed, challenging questions.”


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  • MedSleuth

    It is important for physicians to realize that their patients are inevitably going to go online for health information and instead of discouraging the practice, they should see it as an opportunity for a patient to become an informed partner in treatment decisions. Physician offices should consider compiling a library of sites they can refer their patients to in order to assist patients in locating reliable health information online, thereby making the best use of the Internet and avoiding sites that seek to sell products that are at the best useless and at the worst dangerous.

  • Anonymous

    It seems fairly easy to me to distinguish sites that sell something – it is not like they are subtle in their advetising. Personally, if I see that a web site sells vitamins (or has lots of advertizing) I tend to ignore what it says or at least take its messages with a grain of salt. Also, if the site appears to belong to someone with an agenda e.g. someone who hates all medicine.
    There are also plenty of medical sites – NIH, BMJ, etc. that just offer actual studies. BMJ even gives people access to Rapid Responses which is a great wait to see how other authors react to the article. Many other medical journals allow free access to abstracts.