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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
Journal of Medical Internet Research >
Volume 6 (2004) >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/4704

Title: Efficacy of Quality Criteria to Identify Potentially Harmful Information: A Cross-sectional Survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web Sites
Authors: Walji, Muhammad
Sagaram, Smitha
Sagaram, Deepak
Meric-Bernstam, Funda
Johnson, Craig
Mirza, Nadeem Q
Bernstam, Elmer V
Keywords: Original Paper
medical information
World Wide Web
complementary and alternative medicine
Issue Date: 29-Jun-2004
Publisher: Gunther Eysenbach; Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada
Citation: Muhammad Walji, Smitha Sagaram, Deepak Sagaram, Funda Meric-Bernstam, Craig Johnson, Nadeem Q Mirza, Elmer V Bernstam. Efficacy of Quality Criteria to Identify Potentially Harmful Information: A Cross-sectional Survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web Sites. J Med Internet Res 2004;6(2):e21 <URL: http://www.jmir.org/2004/2/e21/>
Abstract: [This item is a preserved copy and is not necessarily the most recent version. To view the current item, visit http://www.jmir.org/2004/2/e21/ ] Background: Many users search the Internet for answers to health questions. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a particularly common search topic. Because many CAM therapies do not require a clinician's prescription, false or misleading CAM information may be more dangerous than information about traditional therapies. Many quality criteria have been suggested to filter out potentially harmful online health information. However, assessing the accuracy of CAM information is uniquely challenging since CAM is generally not supported by conventional literature. Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine whether domain-independent technical quality criteria can identify potentially harmful online CAM content. Methods: We analyzed 150 Web sites retrieved from a search for the three most popular herbs: ginseng, ginkgo and St. John's wort and their purported uses on the ten most commonly used search engines. The presence of technical quality criteria as well as potentially harmful statements (commissions) and vital information that should have been mentioned (omissions) was recorded. Results: Thirty-eight sites (25%) contained statements that could lead to direct physical harm if acted upon. One hundred forty five sites (97%) had omitted information. We found no relationship between technical quality criteria and potentially harmful information. Conclusions: Current technical quality criteria do not identify potentially harmful CAM information online. Consumers should be warned to use other means of validation or to trust only known sites. Quality criteria that consider the uniqueness of CAM must be developed and validated.
Description: Reviewer: Bhavnani, Suresh
Reviewer: Seidman, Joshua
Reviewer: Fogel, Joshua
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/4704
ISSN: 1438-8871
Other Identifiers: doi:10.2196/jmir.6.2.e21
Rights: Copyright (cc) Retained by author(s) under a Creative Commons License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Appears in Collections:Volume 6 (2004)

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