Recently there was something in the news about roughly half of the information in the shows “The Doctors” and the Dr. Oz show was correct (actually it was 63% of the time in “the doctors: and correct about 49% on the Dr. Oz show). See an article reporting on this here. Often times people will have looked things up on the internet when they come into the office.
Now I’m not bringing this up to knock Dr. Oz or the doctors who appear on “The Doctors”, nor looking things up the internet. However it’s important to ask several questions when evaluating health claims.
1) Does the claim have any scientific basis?
2) Has the study (if a study is being quoted) been replicated with the same or similar results?
2a) Who funded the study? Was it reported in a reputable journal?
2b) If it is a product being touted, did the company making the product fund the studies of the product?
3) Does the person ‘reporting’ the results, or pushing the product have a connection with the company? If there is, what is the connection? Just because someone is employed or funded by a company doesn’t necessarily mean they’re biased, but it is something to take into account.Well you get the picture.
Looking up things on the internet may be just as hard, given that websites may not be what they seem. If a patient asked where to look for information I’d give the following advice:
Lean toward sites that end in .edu, .org (though it doesn’t totally eliminate the possibility of bias..) or .gov
Examples of places like this to start include:
Harvard Medical School health information
the Mayo Clinic
for things like diet, organizions like the Oldways Preservation Trust
WebMD does appear to be a commercial site with decent information
When on a site, look for a statement that indicates if they get funding from a source, and where that source is. Ask where is someone getting his/her data from (or if they’re willing to say).
Perhaps the best place to start is with your own physician.