Intended for healthcare professionals


Accuracy and self correction of information received from an internet breast cancer list: content analysis

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 20 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:939
  1. Adol Esquivel, graduate student1,
  2. Funda Meric-Bernstam, associate professor2,
  3. Elmer V Bernstam, assistant professor (elmer.v.bernstam{at}
  1. 1 School of Health Information Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 7000 Fannin Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA
  2. 2 Department of Surgical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
  1. Correspondence to: E V Bernstam
  • Accepted 27 January 2006


Objectives To determine the prevalence of false or misleading statements in messages posted by internet cancer support groups and whether these statements were identified as false or misleading and corrected by other participants in subsequent postings.

Design Analysis of content of postings.

Setting Internet cancer support group Breast Cancer Mailing List.

Main outcome measures Number of false or misleading statements posted from 1 January to 23 April 2005 and whether these were identified and corrected by participants in subsequent postings.

Results 10 of 4600 postings (0.22%) were found to be false or misleading. Of these, seven were identified as false or misleading by other participants and corrected within an average of four hours and 33 minutes (maximum, nine hours and nine minutes).

Conclusions Most posted information on breast cancer was accurate. Most false or misleading statements were rapidly corrected by participants in subsequent postings.


  • Embedded ImageDetails of false or misleading statements are on

    This article was posted on on 2 March 2006:

  • Contributors AE, FM-B, and EVB planned the study, collected the data, and drafted and revised the manuscript. EVB is guarantor.

  • Funding Supported in part by US National Library of Medicine (grant No 5K22LM008306: to EVB) and the National Cancer Institute (grant No 1K08CA91895: to FM-B.). All authors are independent of the funding agencies.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethical approval Not required.

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