A new study conducted by the RAND Corporation for the California Healthcare Foundation, finds that consumers have difficulty accessing important health-related information on the Internet and that the information they do find is generally incomplete and hard for many to understand.
The study — the most comprehensive evaluation to date of the quality, accessibility, and readability of information in the rapidly expanding e-health universe — finds that although the accuracy of information presented on the Internet is fairly high, many of the sites reviewed contain contradictory information. In addition, the research showed that consumers may encounter a substantial amount of irrelevant information when using search engines and simple search terms.
"The Internet should be a tool that anybody can use, but this shows that a good portion of its health resources may be out of reach for some," said the report's lead author, RAND analyst Gretchen Berland, M.D. "As the online population becomes more representative of the larger U.S. population in terms of race, age, income, and education, the content available on the Internet should correspond to those changes."
Recent surveys indicate that almost 100 million Americans go online in search of health information, with 70 percent of them saying that what they find influences their treatment decisions.
To download a copy of the complete report, visit: http://ehealth.chcf.org/view.cfm?section=Industry&itemID=3973