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Consulting “Dr. Search Engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing): Study finds Internet-based medicine information is incorrect or incomplete

According to a July 2010 study published in the issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS). “patients who using internet to make medical decisions need to know that web mayn’t be giving the whole picture.”

The study examined the top ten search results on Google and Yahoo! for ten common sports medicine diagnoses — phrases like “Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear,” “Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear,” “Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tear,” “Rotator cuff tear,” “Meniscal tear,” “Labral tear (shoulder ligament injury),” “Tennis elbow,” “Acromioclavicular joint separation (shoulder separation),” “Patellofemoral syndrome (knee pain),” and “Osteochondral defect (joint defect)” — and analyzed the type of pages/sites that ranked highly and the accuracy/completeness of the information.

“About 20% of sites in top ten results were sponsored sites,” Dr. Karunakar says. “These site owners are motivated to promote their product, so the information found there may be biased. We also found that these sites rarely mentioned the risks or complications associated with treatment as they’re trying to represent their product in best possible light.”


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