Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


The quality of health information on the internet

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 09 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:557

Rapid Response:

What makes health information on the internet different?

What makes health information on the internet different?


The authors of this paper[1] had failed to mention an important
aspect that makes health information on The internet different from other

Health information on the internet is different from those on
books[2] in the following respects.

1)Unlike accessing information in books, anyone could access a
particular information independent of related information like
disclaimers, information about the author and publisher, preface etc

2)Information on the internet is interlinked as a continuous string
and often cannot be separated into discrete entities as in the case of

Thus evaluating discrete pieces of a continuous string of information
is perhaps the most foolish way of doing it.

To date there has been no published literature on the link structures
of websites offering health information.

3)Information on the internet can be rewritten or changed in no time
, unlike hard copies which are rather permanent records.

4)Many of the instant and interactive communications like chat, e-
mail etc which are the hallmarks of internet are difficult to evaluate..

5)Many of the websites offer dynamic content 'tailored' to the needs
of particular patient settings. Thus these information is presented in a
wide spectrum and thus difficult to evaluate.

[1]The quality of health information on the internet Purcell et al
BMJ 2002;324:557-558 ( 9 March )
[2]Potential problems with trustmarking health information on the Net
Vinod Scaria
e-JCMI 2000(1)

Competing interests: No competing interests

28 June 2002
s Vinod
center for cybermedicine and medical informatics