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New webliography identifies reliable prescription medication Web sites for consumers

The overwhelming volume, technical complexity, and uncertain reliability of drug information on the Internet can be confusing to consumers. As a result, patients often ask health professionals for guidance in selecting reliable Web sites or evaluating Internet information. Researchers at the University of Arizona Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics have developed a webliography, an annotated list of reliable prescription medication Web sites, which can help consumers as well as health professionals who responding to patients' requests.

The researchers applied evaluation criteria developed by pharmacists and health communication specialists to produce the Internet-accessible prescription medication information webliography. The Web sites they evaluated offered medication information that varied greatly in content and quality. About one-third of the Web sites did not include features deemed necessary for a high quality consumer-oriented Web site. Based on criteria from the specialists, the researchers selected 10 Web sites with the highest scores to include in the webliography.

The three highest scoring Web sites as of May, 2006 were Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and Healthvision. The study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10385). The webliography is available online in printable formats at http://www.azcert.org/consumers/webliography/index.html.

See "Development of a prescription medication information webliography for consumers," by Yu Ko, M.S., Mary Brown, Ph.D., Rowan Frost, B.S, and Raymond L. Woosley, M.D., Ph.D., in the December 2006 Journal of General Internal Medicine 21, pp. 1313-1316.

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