Local News

AMA Prescribes "Cyber Medicine" Warning

Posted February 23, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— Our "medical awareness" is being raised through television, magazines and advertising and now, the Internet. Anyone can post information and that can bring problems when you are dealing with your health. WRAL OnLine reporter Tom Lawrence has more about the American Medical Association's "cyber medicine" warning.

The World Wide Web can be very tangled when it comes to health information. When it comes to health you want the best information. That's why some people look for sites that have won awards from ratings services.

"Let the user beware" warns theJournal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Alex Jadad and a colleague reviewed medical web sites and the ratings they are given by various rating services.

They found ratings such as "best site", the number of thumbs up or apples may have little to do with the quality of medical information found.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile."You need help to sort this out. So from that perspective I think that users would welcome the advantage of good ratings systems"TheAmerican Medical Associationwarns patients and medical professionals using the Internet for information to be cautious about what they find.

It's always best to rely on medical web sites managed by recognized organizations. The American Heart Association, theAmerican Cancer Societyand similar groups offer research backed advice.

WRALHealth TeamMedical ExpertDr. Allen Masksays you need to look at the source of the information.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile."Certainly there's a plethora of information available right now but it needs to be used in conjunction with a consultation with your physician."Search engines and ratings groups drive users to sites by rating sites. Often those ratings have more to do with presentation, graphics and glitz than they do with reliable content. However, the Web offers a lot to those who want to know more.

Listen toauorReal Audiofile."I enjoy talking with a well informed patient, a patient who has information when they come and they ask good questions and so forth. As a team, we can work together to make the best use of that information."Dr. Jadad wants health care professionals, consumers and ratings services to explore whether these sites even need to be rated. If so, he wants you to know what criteria are used.