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Is cyberspace a place for accurate medical information?
Every day, more than six million Americans turn to the Internet for medical answers-and
most of them aren’t nearly skeptical enough of what the find. According to Brown
Medical School study in April 2005, only one in ten are free from bias or a motivation for
commercial gain. The problem is most people don’t know the safe way to surf the Web,
says Sarah Bauerle, PhD, principle investigator for a study funded by the National Cancer
Institute and focusing on Internet use by newly diagnosed cancer patients. Literally
anybody can put up a site that looks authoritative, so it is hard to know if what you’re
reading is legitimate or not.
Suggestions-look for medical websites that:
- list the sources of the information and don’t have ads or testimonials,
- end in “.gov”(government sites.). “.edu”(schools). or “.org”(primarily
- are sponsored by organizations you’ve heard of, such as the Mayo Clinic, rather
than “Sarah’s website for cancer survivors.”
Try these sites
- healthfinder.gov: resources form government agencies and reputable
- medlineplus.gov: for news, studies and overviews of diseases and conditions;
- familydoctor.org (operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians); for
- nlm.nih.gov: the National Library of Medicine; the information originates from
the National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services.