Two editorials in the March 21 issue of the British Medical Journal offer differing views about online health information, Reuters reports.
Summaries appear below.
Joanne Shaw: "Not only is the demand for online health information unstoppable, it should be welcomed and encouraged as good for patients and doctors alike," Shaw, chair of the U.K.'s National Health Service Direct NHS Trust, writes. She adds, "We need people to be more prepared to take responsibility for their own health, work out what may be wrong with them, and research how best to care for themselves." According to Shaw, "The Internet does not diminish the role of doctors but casts them as expert advisers rather than authoritarian figures with exclusive guardianship of special knowledge."
Marco Masoni et al.: The Internet is filled with "false medical claims," and Google should increase its control over advertising by improving its filters and algorithms that determine which advertisements are displayed on search result pages, Massoni and researchers at the University of Florence argue. They write, "If improving the filter is too complex, it would be better simply not to display sponsored links in results of searches on medical terms or products" (Reuters, 3/19).