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November 7, 2001

Quality of Health Information on the Internet

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;286(17):2092-2095. doi:10.1001/jama.286.17.2091

To the Editor: The article by Dr Berland and colleagues on health information on the Internet suggests considerable room for improvement in such Web sites.1 However, the authors do not address the date of the information uncovered by the searches. The Detwiler Group conducted a study2 over a similar period and discovered that information on health Web sites is frequently more than a year old. In many instances, it is several years out of date. Our study specifically addressed data about pharmaceuticals and found that drug databases on consumer health sites were updated at most quarterly or semiannually. In most cases, there is no indication of upload frequency. In conjunction with this database research, we found that many patient-oriented information pages were either undated or had only a copyright date; few had the dates on which they were written, reviewed, or uploaded onto the site. In one case, a prominent Alzheimer disease site had a fact sheet dated 1995.3

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