Dr Sajid and colleagues from the United Kingdom evaluated the effectiveness of the internet as a source of information for colorectal cancer.
The team used 6 of the most common search engines including Yahoo, Google, MSN search, Alta Vista, Excite and Lycos.
The research team searched of the generic term ‘colorectal cancer'.
The team analyzed the first 300 links and classified by information type, provider, readership and commercial orientation.
|50% of the links were based on information from textbooks|
The researchers found that the average time delay was 1.7 seconds before matches were located.
The team found a total of 3.2827 million matches on colorectal cancer using the 6 search engines ranging from 700 (Excite) to 1,417,000 (Lycos) websites.
Approximately 50% of the links were based on information from textbooks or governmental websites.
The team found commercial companies giving information about private hospitals and products provided over 50% of the websites on colorectal cancer.
The distribution of target readers was uneven, although a majority of websites were delivering colorectal cancer information to public, and patients.
The team observed that readability of information was difficult to comprehend by the public.
Dr Sajid's team concluded, "The internet is becoming an essential tool for disseminating information about colorectal cancer to consumers."
"Half of the links on colorectal cancer are commercially oriented, containing information on goods or private health services."
"Less than 1% of information is being provided by professional societies."
"To provide relevant colorectal cancer information, key consensus criteria for evaluating healthcare-related websites have to be established."
"There is an urgent need for colorectal cancer information on the internet to be regulated through the establishment of government-funded organizations or professional societies."