Research

Researchers say online health information could be misleading

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While many patients use the Internet to search for health information, some websites can contain inadequate or inaccurate information, according to research presented at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual meeting, the International Business Times reports.

In one study, Cleveland Clinic researchers found that a majority of the 100 most popular YouTube videos about inflammatory bowel disease misinform viewers.
The study also found that more than 50 percent of patients with inflammatory bowel disease use the Internet to search about their health condition.
While the Internet and social media can serve as a platform for patients seeking information or to connect with others who have similar medical conditions, misinformation found online could pose challenges for health care providers, according to researcher Saurabh Mukewar, a medical resident at the Cleveland Clinic.

In addition, Mukewar said that health care providers and patients should be aware that pharmaceutical companies often post videos or information online as an advertisement that can be misinterpreted as coming from a patient (Klocke, International Business Times, 10/31).
He added that one of the most ideal resources for patients would be for physicians who have medical conditions to offer their experiences, as well as reliable information, online.

In another study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Florida evaluated the clinic’s Facebook group for individuals with esophageal cancer.
Herbert Wolfsen, a researcher in the study, said the findings showed that social media can be a key resource for patients and caregivers who are dealing with treatment, nutritional and lifestyle issues after a diagnosis of esophageal cancer. He noted that individuals with esophageal cancer have few patient-centered resources available to them.

According to the study, participants in the Mayo Clinic’s Facebook page had access to resources that included new medical information, links to videos on the Mayo Clinic YouTube channel and group meeting schedules.

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