Author(s): Kahana A, Gottlieb JL. Ophthalmology on the internet: what do our patients find? Arch Ophthalmol. 2004 Mar;122(3):380-2. PMID 15006856
Journal: Archives Of Ophthalmology (Chicago, Ill. : 1960), Volume 122, Issue 3, Mar 2004
The Internet has become a favorite source of medical information for a growing number of patients. At the same time, content on the Internet represents an amalgamation of viewpoints, commercial interests, and various biases. A common way to access Internet information is through commercial portals with proprietary search engines. Often these search engines prioritize their rank list based on commercial interests. We evaluated whether Internet searches of ophthalmic issues are slanted toward commercial sites and whether any differences exist among the various search engines. We used age-related macular degeneration as an example. In this study, we found that some search engines are heavily tilted toward commercial partnerships, whereas others emphasize sites run by nonprofit and educational organizations. Our findings may guide physicians in recommending to their patients some internet portals rather than others. This type of evaluation can be conducted intermittently by physicians and other health care professionals to assess the type of information that reaches their patients and what biases may be influencing patient knowledge and decision making.