One of my pet peeves is that citizen journalists and businesses can publish “health information” online and no authority has to certify the information as being accurate or tested. There is no “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for health information on the Internet. Often patients accessing this health content are grasping at straws, trying to find hope in the information they find online. And they mistakenly trust the information. This, for me, creates a problem.
A recent editorial in The Journal of Rheumatology explores the quality of health information on the Internet. The article, co-authored by doctors Amol Deshpande and Alejandro R. Jadad, discusses how the Internet has impacted the way we access and obtain health information. I encourage you to check out the doctors’ editorial: http://www.jrheum.com/subscribers/09/01/1.html.
The doctors list five broad categories that could be utilized to categorize assessment instruments used to assess the quality of online health information: “code of conduct (e.g. American Medical Association), quality labels [e.g. Health On the Net Foundation (HON)], user guides (e.g. DISCERN), filters (e.g. intute.ac.uk) and third-party certification [e.g. Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC)].” The doctors pose the question: Will we be able to develop a tool that permits individuals to assess the quality of health information? With the rise of Web 2.0 technology, patients are taking matters into their own hands by speaking out about problems the health system has failed to acknowledge.
This is a really important topic to address. It will be interesting to see how we evaluate, rate and manage health information online as the Web continues to evolve. For more, check out the article in The Journal of Rheumatology: http://www.jrheum.com/subscribers/09/01/1.html.
Post by Dan Dunlop with Stephanie Cohen, UNC-Chapel Hill Student and Jennings Intern