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Internet medical advice risky

Posted - Oct. 18, 2004 at 3:40 p.m.



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LONDON, Oct 18, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Those who use the Internet to research their own chronic diseases often wind up in worse condition than if they had heeded a doctor's advice.

A review of 28 randomized controlled trials involving 4,042 participants by lead author Dr. Elizabeth Murray of the University College Medical School in London found using computer tools does improve the medical knowledge of people with diabetes, asthma or other chronic conditions. It also provides them with positive feelings of social support, but there was no evidence cyber-medicine help people change their behavior.

The study suggested because knowledge-seekers become so steeped in information from the Internet, they make treatment choices on their own, contradicting advice from their doctors. For instance, a diabetic person might be told by a doctor to lower blood sugar but decide, based on his own interpretation of data, that the short-term tradeoffs of not complying are worth the long-term risks.

"We found that people who use these things (Internet sources) had more sugar in their blood than those who didn't," Murray said.

The review appears in the October issue of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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