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 Last HONews 

Health On the Net Foundation - HONinfo August 2004 
********************************************* 

In this issue... 

Poor Quality Websites on CAM dangerous for cancer patients 
HON figures 
Research activities 

***************** 

Poor Quality Websites on CAM dangerous for cancer patients 

A study published in the Annals of Oncology has concluded that nearly 50% of 
the 32 most popular web sites on CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) 
for cancer are not good quality. The study was conducted by experts in complementary 
medicine from the universities of Exeter and Plymouth, under the direction of 
Professor Edzard Ernst. 

"The cancer cures discussed on these websites are not supported by good scientific 
evidence," according to the study. Even worse, three websites are qualified as 
"outright dangerous". These three sites had applied, but were rejected, by Health 
On the Net Foundation for HONcode accreditation. 

On the positive side, "four web sites stand out" from the rest for the exemplary 
quality of their information and treatments: quackwatch.org, ebandolier.com, 
cis.nci.nih.gov and rosenthal.hs.columbia.edu. The full list of Web sites evaluated 
is provided in the study . Three sites, quackwatch.org, cis.nci.nih.gov and 
rosenthal.hs.columbia.edu/, are HONcode accredited by the Health On the Net Foundation. 

As an action plan, the study concludes that "cancer organisations and other impartial 
interest groups should investigate websites and create and administer a ‘seal of 
approval’, for safety and reliability, such as the HONcode". 

Today, HON counts nearly 4,000 accredited Web sites in some 72 countries worldwide 
which bear the HONcode seal. "With this expertise and notoriety, associated with major 
cancer organisations, HON can today implement such an action plan in order to protect 
and guide the citizen to safer and better quality online information," commented 
Professor Antoine Geissbühler, President of HON Foundation and Director of the Service 
of Medical Informatics of the Geneva University Hospitals. 

Similar codes exist, but the HONcode is the most widely displayed and the oldest, 
existing since 1995. The HONcode requires that information providers disclose potential 
conflicts of interest, provide credentials for authors relaying medical information, 
and link or otherwise reference the source of medical facts listed on the Web site. 

This fundamental study should raise patients’ awareness on the variability of the 
quality of web sites on CAM for specific diseases. 

***************** 

HON figures 
HON counts today nearly 4'000 Web sites accredited HONcode in 72 countries. This list 
is searchable by full text terms or URL. 

HON is visited from 80 countries by nearly 5 millions of persons whom read 
one web page per second. 



***************** 

Research activities 
HON is present at MedInfo 2004, triennial international meeting for the medical 
informatics community, 7-11 Sep. 2004 (http://www.medinfo2004.org/). 

The scientific paper relating to the research work on trustworthy information 
retrieval conducted in the WRAPIN European project has been selected for MedInfo 
2004 Student Paper Competition amongst a hundred articles. 



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