How accurate is Dr Google?

Not all health information provided by the search engine is accurate, true or reputable. Information on the Internet can be helpful. However, it cannot replace many years of study, training and many years of professional experience. The quality of these texts should be carefully checked. Good texts are characterized by the following features:

  • The author of the texts is named.
  • The author's competences are traceable through his education, certificates and professional experience.
  • The sources of clinical studies are mentioned.
  • Influences on the content of the texts by the pharmaceutical/medical device industry, health insurance companies or interest groups in the health care system are disclosed.
  • Alternative treatment methods are discussed.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of a treatment are described.
  • The texts contain no promises of cure.
  • The limits of a treatment are shown.

What does "evidence-based" mean?

Recommendations for treatment, examination or prevention must be based on facts. Such facts must be reliably verifiable by several people. Scientific facts are provided in studies. These facts or facts are also called evidence. Statements that refer to the results of scientific studies are called evidence-based.


The significance of studies can be divided into levels. Reports on a single case and expert opinions are less meaningful than reports on several cases (case series). Case series are less meaningful than the investigation of a group of affected persons and direct comparison with non-affected persons (case-control study). Case-control studies are less meaningful than randomized studies. In randomized studies, people randomly receive one of several equivalent treatments. Studies in which only the researchers know which patient has received which treatment are particularly meaningful. The findings of several good and comparable randomised trials have the highest significance.

Studies are also differentiated according to quality criteria. The examination of many patients after several years and a careful statistical review speak, among other things, for a good study. A diagnosis made on the basis of symptoms is not as good as a diagnosis confirmed by several examinations. Consideration and evaluation of interacting factors such as lifestyle, smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, etc. also speak for a good study. The transparent description of methods and the presentation of conflicts of interest is common practice in scientific journals (http://www.icmje.org/).

Independent reputable sources

Balanced and trustworthy information must be obtained before any decision is taken. CenterPlast attaches great importance to the education of your patients. Our surgeons help you to understand complex interrelationships to the best of their knowledge and belief. Only as a team do doctors and patients arrive at the best possible decision. Proven and experienced experts from science and patient care have formed networks and working groups. The aim of these organizations is to examine all available facts to help doctors and patients weigh up the benefits and risks. The following sources are reputable, transparent and independent:

  • German Network Evidence-based Medicine e. V. (DNEbM)
  • Cochrane Collaboration
  • Working Group of the Scientific Medical Societies (AWMF)
  • Medical Center for Quality in Medicine (ÄZQ)

Author's statement

Author: Stéphane Stahl, MD, PhD. There are no financial relationships with the pharmaceutical or medical device industries that could have influenced the above text. Any reproduction, even partial, is permitted for personal use only. All texts used on this website are protected by copyright.

 

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