What healthcare sites do you trust?

John Naughton from the Guardian looks at which health care sites you can trust as a follow-up to Microsoft’s cyberchondria study. Most of the data he quotes is old, but the general premise comes down to the fact that you have to be very careful how much trust you put in healthcare websites.

Jeff Jarvis follows up on the conversation looking at medicine as information. Jarvis advocates “doctors should act as curators, selecting the best information for their patients and making sure they are better informed.” I like the concept of the doctors helping us sort the good from the bad, but I’m not sure how most health care practicioners feel about losing control of the information.

Do you have cyberchondria?

Do you have cyberchondria? Are you always googling what’s hurting today to figure out what you have and coming up with a new fatal disease every new day? For example, when you searched for headaches did you see all the articles about brain tumors or find the ones about caffeine withdrawal? Although the chance of having a brain tumor is small, you probably found those articles first.

Well, you’re not alone. A recent study of more than 500 Microsoft employees who answered a survey on their medical search habits revealed that more than half said that online medical queries related to a serious illness had interrupted their day-to-day activities at least once. In the study on cyberchondria the researchers examined how medical searches can be made to give more relevant results. Health information professionals should try to create search engines that are able to detect medical queries and offer advice that did not automatically make Web searchers fear the worst.