We've all done it. You're sick. You don't want to go to the doctor so you just Google it. Soon, you've perused dozens of websites with conflicting information, you're no better informed than when you started, and your confusion makes you feel worse about your predicament. Would you have been better off not Googling in the first place?
Computer scientist Jennifer Mankoff says maybe. When Mankoff contracted Lyme disease, she experienced the same frustrating information (and sometimes misinformation) overload. Dissatisfied, Mankoff decided to conduct a study to determine whether people were receiving the right medical information or not.
Mankoff surveyed 150 victims of Lyme disease, all of whom sought information online, all suffering through different stages of the illness. Many reported having first believed the most dominant medical information, but with more internet searching came around to believe in alternative cures or information that was part of the medical minority.
It is highly possible that the number of medical websites with misinformation outweigh the sites we can trust. So, how do we tell the trustworthy site from the unreliable? To begin, try visiting the sites that are given an authoritative stamp of approval, rather than a high Google ranking. Below, the ten most reliable medical website against the ten most popular ones:
Top 10 Most Reliable Medical Websites (according to Caphis):
- Aetna Intelihealth—Harvard Medical School and Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
- The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center—Cleveland Clinic Department of Patient Education and Health Information
- Familydoctor.org—American Academy of Family Physicians
- Hardin M.D—Harding Library for Health Science at the University of Iowa
- Healthfinder—U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Mayo Clinic—free information from Mayo Clinic experts
- Med Help International—non-profit whose focus is to provide medical information in non-technical language.
- MedicineNet—produced and edited by a nationally recognized network of over 70 board certified physicians
- MedlinePlus—National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health.
- NetWellness—non-profit maintained by University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve University, and Ohio State University health professionals
Top 10 Most Popular Medical Websites (according to eBizMBA ranking):
1. Yahoo Health—21 million unique monthly visitors (umv)
2. NIH—20 million umv
3. WebMD—19.5 million umv
4. MedicineNet—10.5 million umv
5. Mayo Clinic—7 million umv
6. Drugs—6 million umv
7. everydayHealth—5 million umv
8. WrongDiagnosis—4.7 million umv
9. MedHelp—4.6 million umv
10. HealthGrades—4.2 million umv
To learn more about Jennifer Mankoff's story, see Pohla Smith's article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.