[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess medical information provided in a medically oriented Internet discussion group, in terms of the professional status of the individuals providing information, the consistency of the information with standard medical practice, and the nature of the evidence cited in support of specific claims or recommendations.
Standardized review of 1,658 consecutive messages on a particular online discussion group during a 5-month period.
An online discussion group for sufferers of painful hand and arm conditions.
All participants in this discussion group during the study period.
Professional training of those offering medical information, consistency of the advice and recommendations offered with conventional medical practice, and nature of evidence cited in support of medical claims were determined. Of all messages, 55.9% (927) addressed a medical topic. Of these, 79% (732) provided medical information, of which 89.3% (654) were authored by persons without professional medical training, and 5.1% (37) were authored by trained health professionals. Approximately one third of the medical information provided was classified as unconventional. Personal experience was the basis of information provided in 61% of the nonprofessionals' messages and 13.5% of the professionals' messages, while no source was given as the basis of information provided in 29.8% of the nonprofessionals' messages and 67.6% of the professionals' messages. A published source was cited in 9.2% of the nonprofessionals' and 18.9% of the professionals' messages.
These findings suggest that medical information available on Internet discussion groups may come from nonprofessionals and may be unconventional, based on limited evidence, and/or inappropriate.
Journal of General Internal Medicine 09/1997; 12(8):466-70. · 3.42 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although studies that use the double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge suggest that the prevalence of food allergy is about 2%, public belief in food allergy appears to be considerably higher.
The study was undertaken to determine the magnitude and features of the American public's belief in food allergy by surveying a large, demographically balanced population.
A simple question about food allergy was incorporated into a broad, self-reported, mailed consumer questionnaire. Five thousand demographically representative American households were surveyed by means of quota sample in 1989, 1992, and 1993.
The response rates were 79%, 75%, and 74%, respectively. Of responding households, 16.2%, 16.6%, and 13.9%, respectively, reported an average of 1.17 household members with food allergy. Individuals reported to be allergic to foods were more likely to be female, particularly adult women. Male individuals with reported food allergy tended to be young, whereas no such skew was noted among female subjects. Geographic differences were observed in reported food allergy, with the highest rate in the Pacific region. Milk and chocolate were the individual foods most frequently implicated in food allergy. Trends were consistent over the period studied.
Perceived food allergy is widespread and persistent. The characteristics and demographic patterns of this belief are not reflective of known food allergy epidemiology derived from studies in which the double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge is used.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 07/1996; 97(6):1247-51. · 11.25 Impact Factor
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