Miami Herald Examines Increased Number of Consumers Who Seek Health Information Online
The Miami Herald on Sunday examined the increased number of consumers who use the Internet to find health information and several issues related to the trend. Most consumers take the information that they find online to their physicians, but the "trouble may be the information they're getting," the Herald reports. "We're in the age of empowered patients. Patients have more access to knowledge, and they come to [physicians] more informed," Dr. Mark O'Connell, director of medical education at the University of Miami, said. Most physicians agree that government Web sites, such as the NIH and CDC sites, provide the "most trustworthy" health information, the Herald reports. Coble warned consumers against "disease sites," such as heartburn.com and prostate.com, which are administered by manufacturers of treatments for the conditions after which they are named and include advertisements for the medications. In addition, the "line between news and infomercials can become blurred" on some Web sites, such as those administered by WebMD. Eli Lilly, which manufactures the bipolar disorder treatment Zyprexa, sponsors a bipolar disorder self-test on the WebMD site that includes links to the company's Web page (Dorschner, Miami Herald, 1/5).
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