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Online information on medical marijuana misleading, inaccurate

20 Jul 2020

A recent study claims that information on marijuana that are readily available to consumers online are inaccurate and misleading.

The increasing popularity of marijuana has led consumers to turn to the internet for information regarding medical marijuana, according to the investigators, noting that the accuracy of such claims is a “significant concern” because some consumers change their medication management based on information they get from websites.

In this study, the investigators used three online marketing tools that rank websites based on number of views, number of visitors, and visitor engagement to select commonly used websites containing claims regarding medical marijuana. After selecting the top 10 most popular websites, they reviewed the medical claims for accuracy and quality using evidence-based tools.

Majority (76 percent) of the claims made by these popular websites were found to be inaccurate and based on low-quality evidence. Only one of 10 websites (10 percent) made appropriate cause and effect conclusions regarding the use of medical marijuana.

Of note, approximately 3 percent of the medical marijuana claims were written by a healthcare professional. All 10 websites had at least one failure regarding quality, and none mentioned who reviewed the information that was published.

“In order to improve this major problem, both healthcare professionals and website authors need to be more adequately trained in evidence-based medicine,” the investigators said. “Consumers must also be educated and made aware of the pitfalls of seeking medical advice from website claims versus their healthcare professional.”

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