Spine Surgery Information on the Internet
How do you know the Spine Surgery information on the internet is true? Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know. The internet is a wonderful result of much scientific effort. Prior to its existence, information was controlled by governments, publishing entities and media conglomerates. By virtue of the costs, very few could disseminate information rapidly to the masses. Now, with the internet, via social media, blogs and websites, information can be generated instantaneously. This rapid exchange can be a great source of information, or disinformation. Because of the competitive nature of the world, the internet can and does generate demand, mold opinion, and creates action. Because of private agendas, the information is often slanted in a certain way.
Medical information is no different. There is a so called Medical Industrial complex designed to promote more utilization of its products. No modern business is without a website, and a social media team promoting it’s products. Of course, there is the concern that certain information on the internet is biased, or not accurate.
In the January 15, 2015 issue of Spine, Dr. Elhassan et al reviewed the information on Discectomy-Related Information on the Internet.
53 website were identified, and analysed. Almost half the sites were commerical sites. 7 were governmental, 6 by individual physicians, and only three were produced by academia.
Dr. Elhassan concluded the overall quality was poor, with only 20-30% of websites considered of good quality.
Unfortunately, sometimes there is blurring between providing unbiased information, and marketing.
To the internet surfer, I would recommend using the information as general guidelines. For specific situations, only a qualified doctor can give you recommendations that is individualized. In the end, the internet is a great tool, but is never a substitute for personalized, individual care.
- Elhassan Y, Sheridan G, Nassiri M, Osman M, Kiely P, Noel J. Discectomy-related information on the internet: does the quality follow the surge? Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 Jan 15;40(2):121-5. PubMed PMID: 25575087