CAM EducationCancer

The inaccuracy of CAM information on the Web

Researchers from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas focused on breast cancer information.

First, the details.

  • 343 unique web pages were identified using 15 breast cancer-related queries on 5 search-engines.
  • 15 traditional quality criteria were used to evaluate web pagesincluding display of the author and dates the page was created and last modified.
  • Two clinician-reviewers independently assessed accuracy and topics covered.

And, the results.

  • Overall, there were 41 inaccurate statements on 18 of the 343 web pages (5%).
  • CAM sites were more than 15 times as likely to have false or misleading information.
  • There was nothing about a website’s characteristics that allowed the reader to predict the presence of inaccurate information.

The bottom line?
After almost 2 years of surfing the web for CAM information, I’m not surprised by the findings.

Several years ago I wrote an article on my 4 simple standards for assessing medical information on the Internet. They include 1. Recognize bias, 2. Discount jargon, 3. Don’t be influenced by hearsay, and most importantly, 4. Be willing to consider CAM on its own terms.

2/13/08 10:57 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.