The British Medical Journal has launched a website for providing information on dozens of diseases. The Best Treatments site (http://www.besttreatments.co.uk) is designed to give accurate, up-to-date and jargon-free information.
Concerned about number of people using the internet to self-diagnose that is leaving the GPs overwhelmed with visits from "cyberchondriacs" has prompted doctors to set up this website.
It has sections on men's, women's and children's health and lists of symptoms, treatments and questions for people to ask their doctor, with a guide on how to weigh up the evidence from medical research. There is also a section on what to expect from operations and tests.
Cherill Hicks, Website editor, explained that the aim of this site is to provide patients with comprehensive and reliable information for them to make decisions about their treatment. She said that this site is not a sponsored one and so readers could be confident that they were reading impartial information.
Dr Brian Fisher, a GP in Lewisham, southeast London, said on the site that there is evidence that shows patients who were given more information and those who took part in shared decision making with doctors had used the NHS less and had better outcomes.
Dr Trefor Roscoe, a GP in Sheffield, said the site was well balanced. He added that although some people jumped to the wrong conclusion when they have looked at things on the net, the quality of information on the internet is improving all the time.
Research done by the Harris polling organisation, last year, suggested that three quarters of adults using the internet had searched for health-related information. It found that the average cyberchondriacs went online for health advice seven times a month.