Reliability of health information for the public on the world wide web: systematic survey of advice on managing fever in children at homeBMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7098.1875 (Published 28 June 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1875
All rapid responses
The initial concerns raised by Impicciatore et al  are valid and
need to be considered seriously. The massive growth of the internet has
lead to the development of various websites which publish health
information. However as the authors  suggested, some of these websites
may not necessarily be providing the most accurate information to
patients. This is worrying for practitioners as it could lead to patients
taking the wrong actions in regards to their health. For instance a
patient following inaccurate information on the internet could choose not
to act as the online information instructs them that the health matter is
not serious, thus a patient who should be presenting may not.
On the otherhand, online health information may construe the health matter
to be more serious than it actually is and this could lead to patients
over presenting at their GP's.
A more recent study  has shown that the problems still persist
with health advice on the internet being highly variable. Thus it would
appear that things haven't really changed since Impicciatore et al 
first highlighted their concerns.
With the vast number of health websites now available, it would
appear rather difficult to regulate all sites and make sure they are
reliable and consistent in the information they are providing. Although it
could be considered that medical practitioners should be more involved in
helping to regulate the health advice provided on such websites. Is this
really feasible given the numerous other duties and responsibilities
doctors have to contend with on a day to day basis?
The only valid suggestion that has been made is that health professionals
should advise patients whenever possible to use use government or NHS
websites . This should help patients to gain consistency in the
findings they attain from health websites and enable them to make more
informed decisions about matters relating their health.
Impicciatore P, Pandolfini C, Casella N, et al. Reliability of
health information for the public on the World Wide Web: systematic survey
of advice on managing fever in children at home. BMJ 1997;314:1875-9
Scullard P, Peacock C, Davies P.
Googling children's health: reliability of medical advice on the internet.
Arch Dis Child 2010;95:580-582
Competing interests: No competing interests