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April 16, 1997

Assessing, Controlling, and Assuring the Quality of Medical Information on the InternetCaveant Lector et Viewor—Let the Reader and Viewer Beware

JAMA. 1997;277(15):1244-1245. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540390074039

Health care professionals and patients alike should view with equal parts delight and concern the exponential growth of the Internet (the Net), and especially its graphical, user-friendly subset, the World Wide Web (the Web), as a medical information delivery tool.1,2 Delight because the Internet hosts a large number of high-quality medical resources and poses seemingly endless opportunities to inform, teach, and connect professionals and patients alike. Concern because the fulfillment of that promise remains discouragingly distant. Technical glitches aside, when it comes to medical information, the Internet too often resembles a cocktail conversation rather than a tool for effective health care communication and decision making.

See also p 1258.

The problem is not too little information but too much, vast chunks of it incomplete, misleading, or inaccurate, and not only in the medical arena.3,4 The Net—and especially the Web—has the potential to become the world's largest vanity press.