The Internet is a massively expanding body of information which includes medical resources. It is easier than in the past for anyone with some knowledge and effort to access the Internet. Medical professionals as well as patients have a similar ability to research a medical topic through the Internet. As medical professionals, we are concerned whether the medical information found on the Internet by patients is current and accurate. There are relatively few reports that critically examine where patients and family members acquire medical information. To assess the accuracy and completeness of information regarding colposcopy on the Internet, we categorized and defined the information on the Internet through systematic study. We chose eight search engines available on the homepage of Explorer to search and analyze the information obtained from a search for the topic of colposcopy. In addition, we analyzed whether the colposcopy information contained peer-review or reference in order to evaluate its reliability. The numbers of uniform/universe resource locators (URLs) varied considerably, ranging from 11 to 23300, when we tested the search engines using different combinations of capitalization and spellings. Descriptions of information from 181 sites located by a search engine (Yahoo) were also evaluated into five types, ranging from diagnostic to anecdotal information. In terms of the peer-review system, inaccurate or misleading information was found on web pages which might lead patients to doubt and distrust their medical specialists whose information was contradictory to that which they had obtained themselves. We recognize that the Internet has a positive and potential power in partnership with medical professionals to educate patients, helping them to overcome their disease. Nevertheless, we suggest the need to take an active role in identifying the Web sites containing accurate medical information and evaluating their quality.
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