Friday, June 27, 2014

Further proof Dr Google isn't very good

Another story has come to light on how Dr Google isn't the best adviser for medical stuff. It turns out most people use Wikipedia or Web MD for information on drugs. A new story in the New England Journal of Medicine published recently talks about it.

'"Despite debates over its credibility, Wikipedia is reportedly the most frequently consulted online health care resource globally,” the authors write. “Wikipedia pages typically appear among the top few Google search results and are among the references most likely to be checked by internet users.” Wikipedia, along with Google and WebMD, is where more than half of all Americans turn to for health information, according to the report. 

Researchers found that when the FDA issues a drug safety warning, Google searches about that drug increase 82% on average in the following week. Wikipedia pages about the drug see a 175% increase in views on the day of the announcement.'

The cause for concern is that the FDA does not issue drug safety warnings and update Wikipedia - its left to the general public. WebMD is a little better but it is not proactively updated with things like drug safety warnings. If you need that kind of information you need to follow the FDA on Twitter. So the call is to get the FDA to reevaluate their social media presence''.

I'm not sure the problem is with the FDA's social media presence than there is with that fact that so many people go to Wikipedia for medical information. Wikipedia has credibility issues. It is not based on any specific information but on updates from the community. I never use Wikipedia for medical stuff because I do not trust it.

Dr Google insists in on displaying Wikipedia results prominently in so many search results so of course it is used so frequently. I think we need to learn to use more common sense and switch from Wikipedia to WebMD and other more credible sources.

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