Online child health advice from NHS most reliable

Researchers discover many internet health sites give incorrect info and recommend trusting NHS advice

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Typing your child’s health problem into the search engine, Google, is unlikely to help you reach the answer you’re looking for, reports the BBC. Researchers have found that only about 200 of 500 sites offered the correct health information.

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The team used Google to find UK advice on five common issues, including breastfeeding and autism, and discovered that government-run sites were the only completely reliable source.

It’s estimated that 70% of UK households now have internet access, and parents turn to search engines for a second opinion on medical issues. But doctors are concerned that large amounts of information and advice available on the web is unreliable and misleading.

The researchers from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust tested this by typing key words into Google, restricting results to UK-based sites. They found half of the search results failed to answer the question. Of the 500 results, 11% gave inaccurate information, and 39% gave the right answer.

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However, government websites like NHS Direct or NHS Choices continue to be very accurate and should be recommended more by doctors, said the researchers. A spokesman for the Department of Health said NHS Choices was now the most popular health website in the UK.

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