Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Americans and Canadians get different drug information online

Date:
February 23, 2011
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Americans and Canadians are getting vastly different search results when they look up prescription drug information online, says a new study.

Americans and Canadians are getting vastly different search results when they look up prescription drug information online, says a study by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

Residents of the United States searching on Google for both brand and generic drug names get directed to the government-run National Library of Medicine. However, Canadians performing the same searches end up getting Wikipedia for generic drug searches, and drug company sites for brand searches, according to the study, published online February 22 by the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

"The study also revealed that the most viewed drug pages on the Internet are those with the potential for addiction, like Oxycodone, and drugs for stigmatized conditions, such as antidepressants," says Michael Law, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research (CHSPR) at UBC. "It's important for the medical community to understand where patients are going for their drug information."

Previous research has found significant problems with both the information on Wikipedia, and in the drug information produced and distributed by pharmaceutical companies.

"These are not likely the most reliable and unbiased sources," says Law, also an assistant professor in the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) at UBC. "Patients should be sure to verify the information they find online before making treatment decisions."

One of the reasons for this discrepancy in search results is a 2010 partnership between Google and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which returns NIH-sponsored drug information pages more prominently for searches by U.S. audiences. The UBC study shows that U.S. patients using Google.com would most often have the NIH-sponsored drug webpages, hosted by the National Library of Medicine, returned as the top result.

Meanwhile, U.S. residents using Bing and Yahoo, or Canadian residents using Google.ca for their searches, were led to Wikipedia pages or industry-sponsored sites most often, the study shows.

"We need to pay attention to the quality of online information and where it's coming from, especially for the types of drugs people have been searching for," says Law.

"Notwithstanding cable access to U.S. TV channels, which allow drug brand advertising, Canadians are at least partially shielded from American drug advertising on TV and in magazines," says Law. "Online, however, it's a bit more of the Wild West in terms of what Canadians will find. National rules and boundaries don't mean as much when you can view sites from around the world."

Law co-authored this paper with UBC colleagues Barbara Mintzes, assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and Steven Morgan, associate professor at CHSPR. Funding for this study was provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. R. Law, B. Mintzes, S. G. Morgan. The Sources and Popularity of Online Drug Information: An Analysis of Top Search Engine Results and Web Page Views (March). Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 2011; DOI: 10.1345/aph.1P572

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Americans and Canadians get different drug information online." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223122256.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2011, February 23). Americans and Canadians get different drug information online. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223122256.htm
University of British Columbia. "Americans and Canadians get different drug information online." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110223122256.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beijing Marathon Runners Brave Hazardous Air Pollution

Beijing Marathon Runners Brave Hazardous Air Pollution

AFP (Oct. 19, 2014) Tens of thousands of runners battled thick smog at the Beijing Marathon on Sunday, with some donning masks as the levels of PM2.5 small pollutant particles soared to 16 times the maximum recommended level. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins