Friday, February 18, 2011

Assessing Medical information

Out there on the internet is an enormous volume of medical information. A large percentage of that is to put it crudely - crap. It is not only inaccurate but downright dangerous. Some of these sites take advantage of people who are desperate - the ones selling dreams of a better life if you only use their product or sell the $1000 pill that will cure your cancer. These are known as "wallet extractors".

With a little knowledge, you can avoid being caught out by the sharks out there.

So, first, be very wary. If it sounds too good to be true - it is. Be skeptical.

As a suggestion, start with Quackwatch.
Covers unproven and scientifically questionable claims of alternative health therapies, vitamin peddlers and other health frauds.

I would suggest you start with reading "25 ways to spot it" (Quackery that is) and "Ten ways to avoid being quacked".

If you do a Google search on a condition there will be thousands of hits. Don't just go to the first one and expect that to have the answers. It just means more people have visited the site than any other. Is the site associated with a specific medical practice or medical professional? Does it have lots of advertising on the page?

Stick with the government health sites for basic information .
Try HealthInsite
or Better Health Channel
these can lead off to more sites and you have a better chance of the information being reliable.

Now onto the more intensive information...

is a massive database - about 20 million citations - for biomedical literature from Medline, life science journals and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites. You may not be able to read the entire article you are interested in but usually the summary gives you the information you need.

One thing you need to may sure of when reading articles from journals is that the journal articles have been peer reviewed. This means that the article was sent to other experts in the field for examination before publication. This doesn't always mean the researchers who have written the article are telling the truth but it gives a better chance of them being found out before publication! The journal should state this somewhere on the site.

Always check who is publishing the journal. Many organisations publish they own journals - hospitals and such - but there are sneaky sods who are pushing their own agendas - be wary!

Next : a few journals...

1 comment:

An Old Country Doctor said...

Funny to find another 'Krin' with an interest in medicine...are you of Greek heritage by chance?

another good website for the non medical professional is

the Merck website also has peer reviewed information suitable for non professionals.