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Am J Med. 2005 Feb;118(2):168-74.

Consumer health information on the Internet about carpal tunnel syndrome: indicators of accuracy.

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  • 1School of Information Resources and Library Science, University of Arizona, Tucson 85719, USA.



To identify indicators of accuracy for consumer health information on the Internet.


Several popular search engines were used to find websites on carpal tunnel syndrome. The accuracy and completeness of these sites were determined by orthopedic surgeons. It also was noted whether proposed indicators of accuracy were present. The correlation between proposed indicators of accuracy and the actual accuracy of the sites was calculated.


A total of 116 websites and 29 candidate indicators were examined. A high Google toolbar rating of the main page of a site, many inlinks to the main page of a site, and an unbiased presentation of information on carpal tunnel syndrome were considered genuine indicators of accuracy. Many proposed indicators taken from published guidelines did not indicate accuracy (e.g., the author or sponsor having medical credentials).


There are genuine indicators of the accuracy of health information on the Internet. Determining these indicators, and informing providers and consumers of health information about them, would be useful for public health care. Published guidelines have proposed many indicators that are obvious to unaided observation by the consumer. However, indicators that make use of the invisible link structure of the Internet are more reliable guides to accurate information on carpal tunnel syndrome.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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