Researchers: Health info on hospital websites imbalanced

While the majority of patients turn to hospital websites to learn about healthcare, that information oftentimes is imbalanced, according to researchers publishing a commentary in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Looking at the websites of 317 U.S. hospitals, the researchers wanted to see how the information on a particular procedure, transaortic valve replacement, stacked up.

Most of the hospitals, in explaining the procedure on their sites, listed a benefit, but left out any risks involved. Also, the benefits were quantified on 37 percent of hospital websites, but only 5 percent of them quantified the risks, the researchers say.

This shows that the impact of hospital advertising "must be carefully questioned," according to the researchers.

Some concerns the researchers list when it comes to healthcare advertising include:

  • While people may know a TV commercial is an advertisement, they may not think the same for information on a hospital Web page
  • Few regulations for healthcare advertising
  • Patients may not have the framework to realize that information is imbalanced. Commentary