Is Getting Your Health Info off the Net Safe? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/4/02

Is Getting Your Health Info off the Net Safe?

As the number of health-related websites mushroom, more and more people are turning to the Internet for health advice, and that has raised some concern because what if someone gets some bad advice and ends up worse off because of it? Canadian researchers have been looking into that and their report in the Journal of the American Medical Association might surprise you.

"We found only three cases of humans who were harmed by information found on the Internet, and we were very surprised with these low numbers," says Dr. Alejandro Jadad of the University Health Network.

Dr. Jadad and his colleagues searched more than 1,500 summaries and nearly 200 full studies to look for cases in which someone was harmed by bad Internet advice. Of the three cases they found, one involved a man finding what he thought was cancer cure. An autopsy suggested the drug probably killed him. The other two cases were pregnant women who used the wrong keyword to get information. So, the mis-information they retrieved caused such anxiety that one needed counseling and the other wanted to terminate her pregnancy.

Dr. Jadad says the biggest concern they found is that half of those who use information on the Internet don't share it with their doctors. So he suggests doctors include a question about Internet use when they take a patient's medical history. Hoping that will open the lines of communication about what they believe from the Internet. This side note the study also found a case where a pet owner nearly killed three dogs treating them for heartworm from what he learned on the Internet. For more information (click here).

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