Is webmd.com as trustworthy as, say, an article in a respected medical journal? As far as basic facts, do doctors generally consider it a trustworthy source for the general public?
Many of the articles on WebMD are written by MDs I thought. I doubt it would pass muster for a medical journal, but then again, they’re probably about two different things. WebMD is just an online version of those big books of childhood illnesses and stuff like that. A medical journal would probably consist of scientific studies on how to improve ER waiting times or new surgery techniques or something.
Ah, just realized this probably is better suited for IMHO.
IANAD, but I would think the problem with any site available to the general public would be the one of “translation”. That is, does the reader have the proper tools and background to understand the points and positions put forth?
Many, if not most, members of the SDMB seem like they would be quite capable of using webmd as a valid resource. A beginning point, as it were, for conversations with a medical professional. Or as reassurance that the medical professional they had already spoken to did (or perhaps did not) know a good deal on the subject at hand.
Some people, er,um,ah, strike me as maybe needing a bit of coaching regarding the reading of journaled articles or the results of medical tests reported in publications. That is to say, if one study reports, I dunno, that researchers show that men over 60, who are also obese, eating 50 grams of green olives daily have a 5% decrease in body mass as compared to non-olive eaters, that one study doesn’t mean we all ought to go stock up on green olives. It is something to look at. Needs more study. Might benefit some more than others. An interesting find. But, generally by itself… meh.
WebMD and many sites like it are supported by the medical community to promote patient/parent/ lay care-giver education. The language is purposefully non- technical so any one can understand.
If you accessed the same information on a professional site, like MedLine, you may or may not be able to understand what its about.
Medical professionals are notorious for trying to communicate with patients and families in our jargon. That often leads to to confusion and alienation.
We do it unintentionally, to keep our invisible shields in place. What we accomplish is to make the listener feel stupid… But I digress.
Yes, for the most part WebMD gives accurate information. It would not be used by a professional as a reference, because it doesn’t have the esoteric detail we require.
I often link to it and other sites like it, because I have no idea what the level of medical sophistication my audience posesses. These sites give a thumb-nail of whatever problem we’re talking about, so the questioner actually gains helpful information, rather than just getting an example of “how smart I (or whoever is answering) am.”
Did I answer your question?
Yes, thanks all.