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The rapid and widespread adoption of the Internet as a medical information source by consumers raises concerns about the quality, accuracy, comprehensiveness and clarity of online health information. To assess the effectiveness of the Internet as a consumer health information resource, this study evaluated the information available on four medical conditions: breast cancer, childhood asthma, depression and obesity. The researchers used several popular search engines and visited a number of well-known health-related Web sites to examine the accessibility of the information, its quality and the reading grade level of the content. The Internet has the potential to be a powerful resource for both patients and health care professionals, but more research is needed in order to assess how this medium can be best used to improve the doctor-patient relationship.

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