I admit that the first thing I do when a doctor prescribes me a new medication is turn to Google. And I’m certainly not alone in this: According to a survey conducted by a joint research team from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, 86 percent of people say they use the Internet regularly as a source for health information. But a new study by the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at the University of British Columbia suggests that Canadians and Americans get different results when searching for drug names on Google.
When Americans google drugs, they get results from the National Library of Medicine, reports the CBC. But when we search for those same medication names, Google gives us Wikipedia and drug company sites, which researchers have found to be unreliable in delivering accurate information.
Why the discrepancy? Google and the U.S. National Institutes of Health struck a deal that ensures that government-sponsored drug information shows up first in search results.
The lesson: Never assume that Google knows best, especially when searching for health information. Always make sure the sites you’re reading are associated with a reputable medical institution or are sponsored by the government. And of course, your best bet is to speak directly with a human medical professional. You remember humans, don’t you?
Do you use the Internet to research health information? How do you know you’re using trustworthy sources?